A new book created in honour of Canada's 150th birthday features 150 stories, told by 150 Ontarians, in 150 words or less.
The book, aptly titled "150 Stories" is a project from Ontario's Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, designed to put a uniquely provincial spin on the nation's sesquicentennial.
Here are just a few of the featured stories:
Emmanuel Kabongo — Actor, Toronto
"If I could describe Ontario in three words: diversity, opportunity, freedom.
I grew up in South Africa where I don't remember meeting people from other parts of the world, except when watching television shows or movies. When I moved here and started attending school, I was surprised to see so many different faces. It was my first time encountering people of mixed races, different cultures, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations, and this gave me a sense of comfort and freedom to be who I am.
Living in Ontario, I feel lucky to have been given so many opportunities to advance in what I am passionate about, whether it be receiving grants, scholarships, or various employment opportunities. It is in Ontario that I began my acting career and, no matter where I go, I will always be grateful for my humble beginnings.
Being here really changed my life and I'm glad and fortunate to be living in Ontario."
Sevaun Palvetzian — CEO of CivicAction, Toronto
"My grandfather Garabed ("Charlie") Palvetzian arrived in Ontario in 1915. He was 12 years old. He, unlike many members of his family, had successfully escaped the Armenian genocide. Canada became home.
His first job earned five cents an hour. Afterward, he'd join my grandmother and their five children, including my father, in the family restaurant.
My grandfather's desire to provide for his family — to see his children and his grandchildren have a better life — was what fuelled him. Picking Canada, and it in turn picking him, made this possible. Within one generation the state of poverty was broken. Within two, a passport and multiple degrees became the norm. This trajectory would not be possible in many places around the world. But it is here.
Ontario is where the world gathers. It is where people get to write new chapters into their family's history. I am forever grateful that it includes my own."
Brigitte Shim — architect, Toronto
"Like most Ontarians, I was born somewhere else. My Hakka Chinese parents and all of my siblings were born on the sunny tropical Caribbean island of Jamaica. Upon arriving in Canada, we stepped off the airplane and quickly descended into a gigantic freezer.
A few days later, a February blizzard hit Toronto and I caught my first glimpse of snow. The dull urban fabric magically transformed into a winter wonderland overnight. My first snow angel has long since melted but the extraordinary experience of being enveloped by little teeny snowflakes which, when multiplied, have the capacity to create mountain ranges for tobogganing, as well as armies of snowmen, still resonates with me.
Experiencing snow for the first time as a child has left an indelible mark on me, and it is somehow connected to my deep respect for and appreciation of our remarkable Canadian landscape."
Roberta Jamieson — President of Indspire, Six Nations of the Grand River
"I treasure growing up among my people at the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and vividly recall living without running water, including the long walk to the outhouse on a snowy day; memories of skating on the Mackenzie Creek and picking strawberries in June.
I had what some described as an 'attitude problem.' I simply could not accept those who tried to tell me, 'You don't count. You can't make a difference.' I couldn't understand why our people should accept all those outside people coming to our territory to tell us how to live or to make decisions for us.
I saw raw colonialism and I knew from an early age that I was going to do something to change it. I have worked my entire life to build a Canada in which Indigenous people can once again find their rightful place. There is more work to be done."