Since moving to the United States, I have been more grateful than ever for my Canadian nationality. I consistently go out of my way to tell people that I am Canadian, as the response is always one of joy and often accompanied with an “I LOVE Canadians” claim and the odd “eh” joke.
I must admit, I cannot technically be considered an immigrant, as I was granted dual-citizenship at birth (thanks mom!) and my true Canadian immigrant friends would kill me if I categorized myself in the same complicated-to-get-visa boat. However, having lived in Canada for the first 23 years of my life, I only identify as a Canadian. I continue to use words like “pop” and “washroom” and refuse to convert from Caesars to Bloody Mary’s as my hangover cure.
Most recently, in the midst of a national immigration crisis, creating an eerie aura of uncertainty amongst all immigrants, I fear for my friends and sympathize with the citizens of the banned countries. Being young adults, 99% of my Canadian friends are on TN visas. These visas allow “easier” entry into this country of opportunity; allowing Canadians to start to build their career in order to one day qualify for an H1B in the hopes of eventually obtaining the most coveted piece of plastic in all the land, a green card! By removing this first step in this immigration process, my peers will likely have to buy a one-way ticket home, as it is an extreme rarity for a company to put the financial and legal effort into securing non-senior job roles in the competitive market that is New York City.
However, with this uncertainty comes an even stronger sense of pride. Americans can finally name our Prime Minister (and often do so with a flirty smile on their face) and speak to his class and integrity. My gratitude for our country’s parliamentary system and free healthcare has reached new heights. Whenever asked of Canada’s living conditions and job market by US foreigners and even US citizens considering the move up north, I share how it is continuously expanding, very livable, and a place of security and genuine kindness.
In regards to my friends who may have to return, there are much worse places to have to return to, although I hope that they can stay and continue living the American Dream. I strongly empathize with those who have to return to the countries that they worked so hard to escape. We must all remain hopeful and stick together as we continue to add our value and diverse perspective to this country and in turn, continue to enjoy all of the wonderful aspects that the US has to offer and that we all came here to enjoy.
Contributor: Victoria Menechella