Intertwined: A Lived Experience

MC40_Annette-Lisa-RoseI grew up in a primarily Dutch community in Edmonton. I went to a Dutch church, a Dutch school, and while anyone was welcome, not many people of other ethnicities joined us. From birth to Grade 12, most of my friends were of Dutch descent.

This changed when I went to university. I didn’t cast off my Dutch friends, but started to diversify—not with any purposeful intent, but because in my new environment I was surrounded by diversity. I met my Chinese Canadian friends Lisa and Rose in my second year. Our friendship brought together a collection of Dutch and Chinese students who all became obsessed with dim sum lunches. We became part of each other’s families joining in celebrations from Chinese New Year’s to Sinter Klaas. I soon knew as many words in Cantonese as I knew in Dutch and I became an expert with chopsticks.

It didn’t take long to realize that there was little difference between the three of us. Our Canadianness outweighed our Dutch or Chinese heritage. This only became more clear when I’ve travelled since to Holland and China and saw how much our country of our birth has changed our relationships to the homeland of our parents. We bear remnants of our heritage, but we are at our core Canadian.

Lisa married a Dutch friend of mine (perhaps I can take some credit for bringing them together). She talks as easily about “her” Dutch heritage as I do about “my” Chinese culture. Lisa, Rose, and I no longer spend our time in each other pockets as we did in university, but about once a year, the three of us try to sit down and catch up over dim sum.

To me this is multiculturalism. Not the government policies or initiatives, but the merging and flowing and evolving our distinct cultures being shared and expressed collectively—creating something new and Canadian.

- Annette in Edmonton