Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why I Love Canada: An Immigrant Family's Story

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All of my grandparents came here as immigrants. My maternal grandmother's story is particularly moving, and it's one of the things that makes me love this great country that is Canada.

My grandmother lived in Morroco. When the Americans liberated Morocco from the Vichy government in World War 2, she welcomed troops and served them what I've been told was a delicacy: grasshoppers. They really enjoyed the meal until they asked what it was and suddenly found they had upset stomachs.

It's a cute anecdote that is my personal relation to a time period where the Vichy French wanted to send Jews to German camps, and Morocco's King intervened on their behalf. (At least, this is what I've been told, and read online. The Moroccan King wasn't particularly nice to European Jews, predating Vichy laws with his own allowing for them to be used as labour.) Happier times for the Jewish coomunity there. In the 60s, my grandparents (along with most of the Moroccan Jewish community) emigrated to Canada.

At the time, Morocco was in violent nationalistic upheaval. My mother recalls one very big, intimidating man with a large knife who swore to my maternal grandmother that if anyone hurt her or her family... well, they would see what he carried the knife around for. Apparently my grandmother fed him on occasion, perhaps for his "protection." Amidst all this instability, my ancestors moved here, to Montreal, Canada. (After the Moroccan government tried to keep my grandparents from emigrating by giving them visas that would expire by the time their children got theirs, and so on.)

By the time my grandparents had become immigrants, my grandfather was an old, sickly man who couldn't really work. The Canadian government gave my grandparents welfare that, combined with their children's work outside the house, paid the bills. They also had the protection of the law here. The protection of a justice system that didn't depend on some shady character's knife and likely shadier connections. It was a humble life, but safe, just, and at least partly provided for by the Canadian government, and the good people of Canada.

Whenever I get frustrated with politics and swear about our government in some raging tirade, my mother gently reminds me that it's our overtaxing, generous government that provided for her and her family in their time of need. I wouldn't be writing this perhaps, were it not for the Canadian government and the Canadian people.

So that's one of the many reasons I love Canada.
Happy Belated Birthday Canada!


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