When I arrived in Canada in 2002, I had a different, beautiful and naïve impression that would put a break on trusting what others say until given empirical realities are satisfied. At first, the experience was nauseating; however, as I developed and grew as a writer, the experience actually changed me in a positive light. We are all humans, that is!
Everything I did thereafter and still do now goes under stern analysis. That paid off. Studying philosophy at McGill helped in grounding the desire to churn face-value culture.
However, some of things I learnt in Africa were right! A certain aid worker in Kakuma Refugee Camp told us that ‘you’re going to one of the best places to live in in the world.” He was right. Canada is consistently ranked among the top five countries to live in. In that case, the aid worker was right.
However, my impression of Canada before arriving was that of a place where everyone is well informed about the world. Little did I know that people content with their living conditions need less in terms of knowing what is happening outside their borders. People were and are still so content with their lives that what happens outside Canadian borders was a waste of time to know.
When asked where I come from and I said ‘Sudan,’ a good number of my classmates placed Sudan next to Japan or Brazil. It was an experience too big to ignore. However, as time went by, I got used to the situation. I realized I had every reason to know about Canada, the US, Europe and the Far East…they didn’t have reasons to know them.
I knew more about the world than my university colleagues so I stopped assuming that they are university students and that they’re informed. So I was schooled in a little of Northern American normative assumptions. However, my surprises wouldn’t end there!
As 2003 arrived with the American invasion of Iraq and the presidency of the Bush junior became problematic, I realized my Canadian friends and colleagues were claiming smartness they assumed American didn’t have.
Americans were reflected as stupid, uninformed and immoral. As a South Sudanese, I had to naturally support the invasion of Iraq because of the history of Sadam’s involvement in South Sudanese civil war. At first, I was regarded with horrified eyebrows until I explained to them why I supported the war.
But that wasn’t what surprised me the most. What surprised me the most was the fact that people who thought Toronto was the capital of Canada called bush a moron. To make the matter worse, the same persons were born and raised in Northern Ontario. But here they were claiming some knowledge of the world that warrants them to make value judgement about world affairs. That, I failed to understand!
But still, I didn’t know the appropriate value judgement to place on many Canadians, who believed Americans are dumb and uninformed. However, as I continued to live in Canada, I started to understand the cultural workings of many Canadians. I saw a rhetorical difference between Canada and the US; however, I didn’t so much see the functional and practical differences. Many Canadians are as uninformed and as complacent as Americans.
The attitude towards the world and people different from us was just but the same. However, Canadian still professed moral superiority over Americans. When it comes to justifying that moral superiority, I find the case just but a question of patriotic stance rather than substantive upholding of a truth.
Multiculturalism, a celebrated idea in Canada, was just but a protective mechanism that is doing immigrants a great disservice. It helps the ‘mainstream’ stay away from immigrants and that prevents immigrants from benefiting from the juicy part of what Canada is.
The saddest part of living in Canada is that the feeling of being Canadian wanes with time. The more one lives in Canada, the more one feels alienated and less welcome. This I blame on understanding the ins and outs of any cultural contexts! The more you know the bad and the ugly stand out and the more one gets repulsed.
And people like me, who see everything with critical lenses, can’t be cheated into believe rosiness of things when they are not! However powerless one remains, one’s conscience and view of things is not deluded. It’s clear and that is about what one should always want!
I see you in and out! Thanks you Canada!