Vancouver is many things – a world-class urban metropolis, a home for immigrants seeking a better life, and much more. But to me, first and foremost, it’s my home.
Now, my relationship to this city is kind of peculiar. Most of my life, I’ve lived in the suburbs, so I have always admired Vancouver from a distance. Growing up, it was my favourite place to be and I always looked at it with a sense of awe. It was where everything was happening and where everything interesting was. I loved the diversity, the wide variety of lifestyles, and I loved how it was a city that people from around the world would love to come to. I just grew to love the city more and more. Most of all, I loved how I could meet almost any type of person here. It seemed to be a place where anyone could make a home.
One of the reasons I feel so close to this city is because of my history with it. Even if I moved across the world and never came back here, my cherished memories will always be with me. They are personal and distinctive, like how as a child my grandfather would regularly take me to Stanley Park and the Seawall to spend time with me, and they are ordinary and generic, like how as a teenager I routinely travelled downtown to stroll up and down Granville and Robson streets. What also comes to mind is how every single time I arrived at Granville Station and stepped out into the city, I’d be struck with awe. This still happens. This city never fails to amaze me with everything that it is.
So, two questions here – how is Vancouver my home if I have never lived in it, and how has it shaped me? I wasn’t born in Vancouver – I spent my first few months in Toronto – and when I came to British Columbia, I didn’t live in the core of the city, but rather on the periphery. Nevertheless, I have an attachment to this city. I travelled to Vancouver enough to grow to know and love the city. I grew up in it, in a way. Wherever I travel in my life, even if I die fifty years from now on the other side of the world, a part of my heart will always hold Vancouver as home. Now, how has it shaped me? Because of Vancouver, I love cities of all sorts. I love diversity, variety of lifestyles, various perspectives and viewpoints from every direction – whether those viewpoints are cultural, political or social. The activist heritage of this city has made me an individual who values the presence of an activist culture in this city and every city, someone willing to call out injustice and corruption and stand for those with no voice. Most of all, I’ve been shaped by the openness of this city into a more tolerant person with a more mature understanding of what this word means. People with diverse viewpoints, some that are absolutely opposed to each other, are able to live in peace and coexistence and not clash in hostility or violence. We get along. That’s what tolerance is, being able to agree to disagree when your viewpoints clash and are opposed to each other, and that’s what exists in Vancouver. It really is beautiful.
So that’s it. In my own life, my time and experience with Vancouver has been a love story, even from my youngest days and earliest memories. I don’t know what the future holds for this city and its people, but I honestly see bright days ahead. This city’s best days are ahead of it, I’m sure. Vancouver, never stop being you.