This question seems very easy to answer, however I find it difficult.
With some backstory, myself along with my sister and a few cousins are the first generation of our family to be born in Canada.
My heritage started in the late 90’s as my father and grandmother were amongst the first filipino to arrive in Canada, let alone the city of Vancouver. Growing up, I found it difficult to balance both the traditions of Filipino and Canadian culture that I grew up learning about in school.
It was confusing at first, as sometimes I would mix different aspects of the two cultures in my life. For example, when I would eat at school during lunch time I would need to remind myself not to eat with my hands as I have a set of cutlery set aside for me. But, eating with my hands was something that my family and I did, and a tradition that invites others to eat too. In example a “boodle boodle fight” is where banana leaves are placed on a table or ground and a combination of vegetables, rice, fried fish, barbecue would be laid on top of it.
Then, a group of people would gather to eat with their hands as it is our own “spoon and fork”. It was upsetting to me that I needed to ‘remind’ myself as I should not care what my classmates think. When was the right time to share my culture in my life, and how am I supposed to do it? As I grew older, my mother took my sister and I to cultural dance practices and had us perform at various filipino events around the Lower Mainland.
From there, I became involved in the filipino community singing and playing piano at church, attending yearly Philippine Independence Day and practicing my Tagalog on my mother’s “Magic Mic” Karaoke Machine. Now, as a young adult, venturing out into the world I began to answer the question.
To be Canadian is to withhold the ability to accept other cultures such as my heritage. I can show the utmost respect for other cultures, and share a lending hand when someone needs it. Filipinos by heart are the most happy go lucky people in the world.
Although many live in poverty, they still share a smile on their face and they are grateful for everyday spent with their families. To be Canadian is to be enriched and deeply rooted in their identity, and the understanding of what it means to be truly Canadian. I believe that as a Canadian born citizen and the first generation of my filipino family living in Canada I am able to share compassion for others and become a symbol of what exemplifies a strong Canadian woman.