Nathaniel Ondiaka, Zhang Liwen, Fennela Masitsa, Henry Chang at Tiananmen Square (Zhang Shijie)
The Past is Another Country is a compilation of writings by 12 new Canadians. SCENE invited Kenyan born Nathaniel Ondiaka, to write about his experience for Canada Day.
Proud Canadian - by Nathaniel Ondiaka
My family and I arrived in Canada in October of 2004 from Kenya in Africa. Our reception of "Welcome to Canada", our new home, by a Toronto customs official was overwhelming.
The first moment I felt proud to be Canadian was when I was accepted as a landed immigrant and later as a Canadian citizen, with the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms for all, as is enshrined in the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms". This is quite different from the cultural setting of restrictions and consequences that we knew, as here there is more acceptance of one's own beliefs.
As new Canadians, my family and I have more than our share of adequate security. Here there are strong family values, high moral fortitude, helpful neighbors and overall friendly support. The overwhelming sense of acceptance in our community includes a warm welcome party to a new abode, a friendly wave coupled with smiles and conversation, to help with snow clearing in the winter. Canadians are there for you and this makes you feel you want to help others as well. This makes you feel Canadian.
I have had remarkable personal experiences in Winnipeg; Jamhuri day (Kenya's Independence Day) is a commemoration with the enthusiasm of diversified Canadian cultures. Also - Save the Children Fund - a fundraiser for African children - where people show genuine support.
My most recent memorable experience is being asked to contribute to the book The Past is Another Country, a multi cultural book that was sponsored by the Millennium Library in Winnipeg. This book reflects the identity of being a Canadian.
Most of all, the prestige of being a Canadian is witnessed by respect and recognition throughout the globe. And this goes beyond the noble duty of extending generosity and helping others in turmoil. The kindness that Canadians have shown to the rest of the world is unparallelled. Being a Canadian means being accepted throughout the world, as an International citizen.
As someone who was born in Kenya, studied in China and practiced medicine in China and Kenya, I feel like I belong in Winnipeg.
Nathaniel Ondiaka (Saad Ahmed)
Nathaniel Ondiaka is president of the Kenyan Association of Manitoba and works with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority in addition to acting as a consultant. He speaks seven languages.
This content is provided by Nathaniel Ondiaka. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.