The Canadian side of Vancouver

I heard about the city of Vancouver long before I came here. Vancouver, “the warmest part of Canada,” we used to say scornfully, in my childhood home of Edmonton, Alberta. Vancouver seemed somewhat less than Canadian with it being so far off behind the Rocky Mountains. Vancouverites didn’t slide to school on snow-packed roads the…

Anyone can fit in

I was eight years old when I knew that I would someday live in Canada. At school we were given an assignment with an open topic. Still lulled by the story my mother liked to recount often of a solo trip she made to Québec, my topic could only be of that large tract of…

Vancouver: My new home

I was born and raised in Dubai, a multicultural city in the United Arab Emirates. Even though I grew up in Dubai, I couldn’t call it my home because it is impossible for expats to gain citizenship in the United Arab Emirates. Children who are born in Dubai automatically take the citizenship of their father.…

Retrospective 1982

Dear younger friends, I will take you to a Vancouver you never knew! I was born in Quebec City and made my way very gradually to the “green city,” with a stop in Ontario for university studies, a quarter of a century in Alberta to bring up our children, and two enchanted years in New…

In discovering Vancouver, I discovered myself

I was born on November 14th, 1990 in Belgium, a small, lovely country, where the highest summit doesn’t reach 2300 feet. My parents speak Flemish. It’s very close to Dutch, only the accent is different. I was six when my parents decided to divorce. That’s when I moved to the South of France. From then…

No sense of home

My experiences of growing up in Vancouver are different from most people’s. For one thing, I am a Vancouverite, born and raised here. Also, my family has lived here for four generations. However, my family is of Chinese descent. I found it bewildering, growing up in Vancouver. I always felt as if I didn’t quite…

An urban perspective

“When you first arrive in a town, you see streets in perspective. Rows of nondescript buildings. Everything is unknown, virgin territory. A day will come when you’ll have walked those streets, gone to the end of the perspectives, come to know those buildings, interacted with the people. Living in this city, you’ll have walked along…

A role model for smaller towns

Even though I’m a Saskatchewan-born Regina resident now, whenever I visit Vancouver, I feel right at home – probably because I spent five and a half years living there. I didn’t leave because I wanted to, but because of employment opportunities. I’ve now settled back into the prairie life, which was a bit of a…

Canada, who are you?

When I started to think about a working holiday visa, my main goal was to enjoy a new experience, discover a different culture and get to know life in another corner of the world. After weighing all the alternatives, I decided to burn my bridges and fly to Canada. I submitted my application and was…

The making of a cultural hub at the global stage

I am originally from Malaysia – a country that prides itself on being multicultural – but I spent the majority of my childhood abroad. I have always thought that my exposure to different countries and cultures meant that I have a firm understanding of multiculturalism. Despite my international upbringing, I spent the majority of my…

The sweet Canadian shock

One summer afternoon on a Vancouver bus, my mother looked at me wide-eyed, “A lady in transportation asked me how my day was … what do you think she wanted from me? ” she asked, a little bit embarrassed. “Nothing,” I replied. “Except knowing how your day went, I suppose.” I could only sympathize with…

Grimace at interracial couples

I cringe at eye contact, or rather, I feel deeply embarrassed when people stare at my partner and I walking side by side, hand in hand. In those eyes, confusion, unfriendliness or even aversion is written. My partner, D., is a Sri Lankan from Seattle. He has brown skin, while I’m a light-skinned Chinese living…

Vancouver: my hometown

I’m barely 19 and fortunately my identity crisis, a psychological crisis that begins during adolescence and that sometimes extends into adult life, has quickly passed. For a good part of my life I did not know who I was, partly because I’m “exotic.” By “exotic,” I am referring to the fact that I have ethnic…