All posts tagged: canada

Oh Ottawa: Reflecting on a Canadian Life Left Behind

If Belle from Beauty and the Beast were 40 today, would she still be living happily ever after or would she have second thoughts about leaving her provincial life? Would she still identify with that life at all? Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, I suppose in some ways I was a modern-day Belle leading the proverbial provincial life*. The grass is green, and there’s lots of it – in the summer months at any rate. With the federal government headquartered in the nation’s capital, the job market is robust and typically weathers market downturns well. There’s access to good schools and, of course, universal healthcare. At home, we indulged in many popular American imports. Our family tuned in to ALF and laughed at Steve Urkel’s silly jokes, my dad received a hero’s homecoming when he signed up for a Jumbo Video membership (Canada’s answer to Blockbuster) and surprised us with a copy of the newly-released Batman movie, and in the 10th grade I became completely obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera when a touring …

I’m Canadian, And I Think It Might Be Time To Go Home

When you travel by rail between New York and Ontario, there’s a bridge over the Niagara River where the train, briefly, lies in mid-air between Canada and the U.S, the mist from Niagara Falls drifting toward the train windows, tantalizingly out of sight. On one side of the river, the Stars and Stripes flutters in the wind, on the other, Canada’s red maple leaf. It’s an odd feeling, every time, to hang suspended between my two nations, my two identities. They’re so close, but – especially now – so very far apart politically. Now that Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office, I wonder, daily, why, with a perfectly good, safe country to return to, I haven’t moved back home. A place where the nation’s best universities cost less than $10,000 a year, sometimes much less. Where single-payer government-run healthcare keeps millions of people healthy, whatever their age or employment status. Unlike many immigrants – who arrive fleeing weak economies, religious persecution, political strife, even war – I chose to leave Canada for the United …

Cockney to Canadian: The Perils of a New Patois

Some epiphanies hit you gently, and some are starkly exposed, like the time a drunk girl on the bus shouted that my eyebrows were “so on fleek” and I had to quickly text my sister for a definition. Did it mean that my eyebrows were so offensive due to my overplucking? Or so on point? (Which, in fact, is what it does mean.) But in asking my Gen Y sister what this word meant, I realized what a relic I had already become. It didn’t help that the moment was memorialized when she Instagrammed it with the hashtags #YouOldAsHell and #Duffer. It wasn’t always like this — I had prided myself on my unusual accent and slang when I moved from London to Vancouver. I was popular for that fleeting first week where new kids are novelties, especially ones with a built in repertoire of British words. I was asked to say “rubbish” almost eleven times at recess while my new friends copied my pronunciation like a wobbly Gwyneth Paltrow in any English film. I …

Story Gone Cold: A Reporter Finds an Unexpected Angle in the Arctic

I bet you can’t find Salluit on a map. Look for Quebec – six times the size of France – then move your finger north. Way, way north to a spot just past the Arctic Circle, which lies at 60 degrees. You can only reach the Inuit town of Salluit by air. There are no roads. And you can only fly into it via Air Inuit, coming to and from places like Aupaluk and Inukiak. I visited in late-December in the mid-1980s. We took a jet north from Montreal to Kuujjuaq, a two-hour flight, before switching to one of the tiny DASH-8s, small aircraft specially designed and built for use on the Arctic’s short frigid runways. The kind of runways where all you’ve got to work with is a lot of snow and ice and little room to maneuver before skidding off into seawater, the temperature of which will kill you within minutes. I was a reporter then for the Montreal Gazette, sent north on an assignment typical of the paper’s tastes. The story was …