Asian Heritage Month

Where do you come from?

By Anu Sahota

One question so often asked of immigrants, and indeed of many second and third generation Canadians is "where do you come from?" For those new Canadians who've spent considerable energies immigrating to a new land, the implication that home is inevitably elsewhere can be frustrating. Some years ago as I carried my laundry to my apartment an elderly woman stepping off the elevator exclaimed, "welcome to Canada!" Baffled (I was born and raised in Victoria, B.C.), I wondered what had given her the impression that I was in any way new to the country. After all, I had obviously been around long enough to accumulate laundry - not to mention acquire the cheek to wear a Margaret Trudeau-inspired bob with Neil Young-invoking flares.

In this clip from a September 1984 episode of The Canadians, a weekly program which profiled multicultural communities, host Paul Winn speaks with Philippino immigrant Leo Kunen who reflects on the first question he is always asked: "where do you come from?"


Watch an excerpt from The Canadians (1984) (runs 5:12)

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Comments: (2)

trollerboi () wrote:

I loved the Q&A on communicating language and values in Canada. Leo responds that by teaching kids the languages of their parents they realize they have their own identity. I think that is a pithy comment. I would add to that. Language and culture is part and parcel of communicating the parents' values to the children.
One can't but help think of Canada's dark past on forcing native children into foster homes, on urging them to lose their mother tongue.
That said. I love this series. Indeed, I notice that the people behind this are as multihued as the people they are portraying. I cannot but help think this series is a personal telling of their pride and their native values. I take pride in their (our) pride.

Posted June 7, 2007 03:35 PM

Pooja jerath () wrote:

It is very interesting to read in the above passage about the questions that every immigrant is asked "where do you come from". I know this as I am an immigrant from India, and was born in New Delhi. I was 7 when i moved to Vancouver with my parents, and remember through high school to university people asking so where are you from. We tend to generalize where we come from by looking at the color of the individuals skin and not think that "maybe they are born in Canada". THe irony is that, these days its an assest if you're an immigrant as people love to know your back history and how one landed in Canada, and the voyage here. But also that question does come in one's head who is born in Canada and is not an immigrant that "hey i'm born in Canada, i'm not an immigrant"
For me i don't think that as i do come from India so i automatically say that i was born in India, and then usually the answer is "oh wow, cool" but i'm sure in the 80's or before that might have not been the answer!

Overall, I am pround to say that i'm an immigrant to Canada, although have my Canadian Citizen, but also do love my home land India and am very proud of it!

Posted May 6, 2007 02:35 PM

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