Okay, but What’s Your “Real” Background?
Okay, but what’s your real background?
What do you think of when you think of Toronto? The art? The food? The music? Drake?
Born and raised in a predominantly Italian immigrant burrow on the outskirts of Hog Town, I was always fascinated by the other cultures that made up this vast city. Everywhere you look, there are designated “areas” for every culture; Greek Town, Little Jamaica, Little Italy, China Town, Koreatown and the list goes on.
Eventually moving into the city, I began to appreciate these other cultures even more. I could confidently go to an Indian restaurant and get quality, authentic Indian food. I could very blatantly see the art and musical influences from every single country, brought into this 7,125 square kilometer radius.
Our summers are filled with festivals celebrating these different cultures, such at Caribana, the CHIN Picnic, Taste of the Danforth, and so many more. We were even recently named the “most diverse city in the world” by Vogue, with just more than half of our population being foreign born, and over 230 different nationalities – could we BE any luckier?! As proud as we are, the rest of the world seems to be puzzled by our enormous pride.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in The Sunshine State, hot (and confused) Florida. I always found it strange that, when asked someone their background, most people automatically replied with “American”. Even my own cousins, whose dad (my uncle) is an Italian Immigrant, answered in the same note. I asked why, and it was met with the insulted and confused look as if I just asked them to denounce their country and all-American pride, when most Torontonians would typically answer that question with “Italian”, “East Indian”, “Portuguese”, “Cantonese”, “Somali”, etc., etc.… I could do this all day.
I have always been extremely proud of my heritage, while still being fiercely Canadian, which I think most of us can relate with. Just take a look at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics for example. Every single body in this country could not be more proud to live here. We live in a great country, vast and beautiful, but also inclusive and diverse.
As Canadians, and specifically Torontonians, our cultural identity isn’t hockey or poutine (drool). It’s not beavers, lumberjacks, beards, hunting, or moose. It’s being able to wear our different nationalities on our sleeves, while still being loyal Canadians. It’s our ability to celebrate different cultures, traditions, foods, and ideas, in unison without discrimination that makes us such a special country. It’s a place where anyone, from any part of the world can come to visit or live, and feel completely comfortable.