Another beatiful capture of water for you, this one of the frozen variety. Our contributor in Canada has sent this in saying, “This is a river that divides Whistler mountain from Blackcomb mountain. Whistler-Blackcomb is a famous ski resort here in British Columbia, Canada.”
Suzanne Levasseur and Pierre Richer are originally from Abitibi and Montreal (Canada) although they lived in Toronto for 25 years. One day they decided go on an adventure and start a new life in Paris, France. They started their blog as a means of communicating with their friends and family and documenting their new life. Suzanne et Pierre à Paris is a bilingual blog. Each post is written in French and in English for the benefit of their family members and friends who speak those languages.
The Suzanne et Pierre à Paris blog is divided into five user-friendly categories:1) Vie à Paris / Life in Paris, 2) Les quartiers / Districts, 3) Les Environs / Ouside‘ 4) Voyages / Trips and 5) Preparation. They help the reader navigate the blog and follow Suzanne and Pierre’s preparations for the big adventure, know about their daily life in Paris, go with them (virtually) on the trips they take and get to know the beautiful city of Paris: its quartiers (neighbourhoods) and beyond. They also publish beautiful photos on their Flickr account.
I recently got married, and my wife and I decided to take our honeymoon (a post-wedding vacation) in the Canadian Rocky Mountains near Banff, Alberta. We stayed in a small chalet abutting a roaring “creek”, (a river, where I come from!) next to train tracks that cut through the valley, with the Transnational Canadian Highway on one side, and the old Bow Valley Parkway on the other.
The trip was amazing; we saw caribou, ground squirrels (who act just like prairie dogs… they even whistle!), herons, ravens, grizzly bears, black bears, Canadian geese (in Canada!), black-billed magpies, gray jays, ospreys, chipmunks, and various other critters. I was really hoping to see a marmot, but no such luck. We were a bit apprehensive about the bears, until we realized that apparently other tourists had never heard that bears or other wildlife could be dangerous, and would get out of their cars and get way too close to them. So we just stayed behind the idiot tourists, and felt pretty safe.
In the 1800′s Canada was a series of divided areas. With Upper Canada populated with settlers from France and Lower Canada with settlers from England, the colony stood on opposites sides of many issues- including wars in Europe between their home countries. Different regions surfaced, including Acadia on the East Coast which was predominantly French, and Manitoba inland which was created by the fur trade.
These areas all had their own system of government or political parties. Further, at this young stage, the Canadian colonies were already spread over such a diverse area of lands that they held individualized resources and needs. This enhanced the tensions between each other.
It was finally in 1867- Yes, Canada is still so young in comparison- that the founding fathers of Canada created the Confederation. At the helm, was our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. Together, 4 provinces formed to become a major part of the Canada we know today. They were Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Manitoba, on the other hand, held off another 3 years before they finally joined the country at the same time as the Northwest Territories. From then on, it was a slow process of adding British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Territory, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and finally Newfoundland. They joined one at a time, dating as recently as 1949. In fact, recently, in 1999, a piece of the Northwest Territories separated itself and became Canada’s third territory, Nunavut. These 13 regions create the entirety of Canada.
It was July 1st, 1867 that Canada was born. We still celebrate the country’s birthday with the aptly named Canada Day each year. It is a national holiday with most people receiving an extra day off of work. Often this longer weekend is simply referred to ‘the July long’.
Children are usually recently out of school and families often take this time to travel out of town. Road trips, camping, and any outdoor experience are common. It is the official kick-off to our summer enjoyment.
My personal favourite Canada Day celebration happened up North in the village of Haines Junction, Yukon. The whole town came to be in or to watch a parade right down the main street. Their main street also happens to be a stretch of the Alaska Highway. Thus, this popular summer highway was barricaded and closed for the duration of the parade. Of course, in this village of ~500 people, a parade does not take very long. There was also a huge barbeque lunch serving hamburgers and hot dogs. It seemed that everyone attended.
Other common events include concerts, family-oriented events in parks, and fireworks at night. And, we cannot forget, everyone wears as much red and white and maple leafs as they can.
Today, we have the pleasure of hearing from Gabriela van Rij. Gabriela’s life has been, by definition, a cross cultural one. She was born in Pakistan, but raised in Europe and North America by her adopted diplomatic family. Currently, Gabriela lives in Canada, and works with a multicultural team promoting her book, With All My Might, which chronicles her life story and experiences and shares how she overcame adversity and came to terms with her own identity.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How would your friends or family describe you?
I am a self-made woman that has worked hard to get where I am today. Family is very important to me however, being adopted has not always given me the family I had wished for. My friends are terrific and mean the world to me, I have had them in and out of my life throughout which is amazing to me. Long lasting friendships with individuals from various cultures have become a surrogate family for me.
Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?
I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I am originally from the North of Pakistan and lived most of my life in Europe and North America. I never knew any better than to be on the move in a diplomatic family. It teaches you to adapt for survival. What is even more important is that you learn to depend on yourself and that home is where you are. Living in Canada is quite amazing and diverse. Vancouver is an enormously safe place compared to some places in the world.
If you would describe yourself as multicultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why. If you have kids, what culture do they most associate with?
I have identified most of my childhood and teenage years with the Western culture, but the older I get the more the fingerprint and identity of the ingrained and inherent culture come out which is Asian. I identify with the Western culture as that is the one I know the best. I have a child who is multicultural and has two ethnicities. It is not always easy for them either to identify which is which. I feel that most of them welcome more the Western world as they perceive it as better. This tends to be very true, at least for now, with my own daughter. She tends to feel European as do I.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
Wow, nothing I do is typical; I get up early (between 5:30 and 6) and throw on clothes and go for either a long walk or jog on the seawall with my dog. Then I get ready for work at my consulting job and work 3 hours for one specific client before my We Open Door’s team gets in. On a rather interesting side note my team is multicultural. I have been fortunate enough to employ individuals that embody my own uniqueness and diversity. My team is comprised of one young lady from Chile, one young lady from Australia, one man from Vancouver originally from Italy, one young man from India, and two agents from the US. Upon the arrival of my four-member office team we work solidly to promote my book With All My Might and before I know it is 4:30 PM and I should be writing my children’s book.
What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?
The best part is the enormous diversity and safety. The worst is that every culture seems to stay on it’s own and that true diversity of mixing the cultures still has to be created.
What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?
I am not sure which movie you need to see to appreciate Canada. But the Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010 showed the world that they were strong and resilient and that they support the dream of the athletes. What amazed me is that in these events every ethnicity, every one of all walks of life come together for one common good “the athlete”. No racism, no bullying, nothing, just a coming together of nations for the good of the athlete! Incredible experience! Canada you rocked!
What language or languages do you use on a day to day basis?
I use French and English daily, and I try to keep up my Dutch. But from a promotional standpoint I also incorporate Spanish on a large scale. I am preparing to release my book With All My Might in Spanish and will do so at an event in Las Vegas in mid June.
Tell me about a national hero in your country. Who are they and what are they admired for?
Having four countries that I call home makes it very difficult to choose anyone “hero.” Pakistan is rich in history and culture. The Dutch are known for their dikes and engineers. The French are known for their food and wine. Canada has produced some of the most famous entertainment personalities and athletes (especially in the arena of hockey) that are widely known in the US.
Tell me about your favorite holiday, and what cultural traditions you practice to celebrate on that day.
Every national day of most of the above countries I celebrate usually at the embassies. I celebrate the French, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Germans, the US and the Canadian national holidays. As these are the countries I know best. I would say the 4th of July will always be special together with the national Queens day in the Netherlands. Tradition in Holland is to drink bitter drink that is orange to celebrate the house of Orange. The Dutch are traditionally not very shy and party like crazy on that day. The French 14th of July is amazing and a bit traditional.
Describe a favorite typical meal from your country.
The Dutch are not very known for their cooking. They are known for the pancakes, which is a sweet dish. The French cuisine is one of my favorites as it heightens all your senses. Amazingly enough the Indian/Pakistani cuisine I have come to appreciate very much. I could live of ‘tidka dahl’, which is a yellow lentil dish nice and spicy.
What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?
They are surprised the Dutch are so open.
They are also surprised that in Vancouver everyone is overly polite.
The Americans are always surprised the French are truly rude and shout.
But all of these quirks is what makes up a culture and gives us the true flavor of multiculturalism.