Cultures Found and Lost

MC40_hennahandsAbout fifteen years ago a friend of mine was getting married and invited me along with a few other work colleagues to a pre-wedding celebration. My friend is of South-Asian ancestry and the celebration was based around her South-Asian culture. She stayed upstairs for the first part of the evening while a woman beautifully painted hennas on her hands and feet. I had a henna painted on my hand along with a few of my friends.

Later on in the evening my friend came downstairs and was greeted in a cultural way by both families and many friends. It was an amazing opportunity for me and I had a wonderful time being immersed in this culture for the celebration. I remember looking at the women dressed in their beautiful saris, thinking they looked stunning. I noticed that my colleagues and I were dressed rather plainly in our casual western-European clothes. It was from that evening on that I started to enjoy learning about other cultures and understanding how cultural diversity enriches our lives.

Since that time I have made many First Nation, Métis and Aboriginal friends whom have brought so many gifts into my life. My friends have taught me how important our Elders are, that they are to be respected and their knowledge is vital across generations, they’ve taught me that we are all connected, that we must respect and be grateful for mother earth and so much more.

Before experiencing other cultures I had no interest in my European ancestry, feeling very much Canadian. Now I want to know more about my ancestors’ stories for two reasons; I’ve learned that it’s a part of who I am and to honour my great-grandmother who was sent to Canada in 1908 when she was a child orphan to work as a domestic servant. My great-grandmother wanted to know about her family all her life.

- Tracy in Fraser Valley, BC