Friday, 20 January 2012

State of...Heritage

So here's a topic that has been discussed at work (and at length) recently. To give you some background, I must digress briefly.

I am Canadian. I was born in Edmonton before moving to Toronto for the first 20 years of my life. During that time, I was able to secure a US passport because my father was born and raised in the United States. He is, or at least was, "American". So from the time I was 21 I've had two passports (and therefore Citizenships?). I've always considered myself a Canadian first however since I was born there.

So here's the discussion topic. Am I an "American Canadian" or a "Canadian American". Without question I consider myself one and not the other. People at work swear that I'm wrong and without question consider me the other. Who's right? So we went to Wikipedia. Wikipedia has this to say: A Canadian American is someone who was born or someone who grew up in Canada then moved to the United States.

So by Wikipedia's definition I am a "Canadian American". But is that correct? I'm pretty sure that it is, in fact, INcorrect. Hear me out...

If I was black and born in the US/Canada, I would be considered an "African American/Canadian". The nation I was born in would be second, and my background (or heritage) would be first. I don't think the term "American/Canadian African" would be accurate...just as I don't think the term "Canadian American" is accurate.

So I asked my brit friend, Bev. He was born in England but has lived in the United States for many years. Without giving away my feelings, he said he considered himself an American Brit rather than a British American. His exact words were "Definitely an American Brit".

I'm open to other ideas (even though you'd be wrong)...but once it's been determined that I'm right, the second question is...why do Americans think that it should be the other way around? Or is it in our very nature to automatically assume that our citizenship (in our heart) should be second (aka most important)?

It's this crap that keeps me up at night.


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