The Calder Bateman team is marking Canada’s 150th birthday by reflecting on what this country means to them. The first post in our four-part series is written from the perspective of Wafia Ramprashad, a CB Project Lead who immigrated to Canada in 2000 and became a Canadian citizen in 2005.
Whenever people find out that I’m originally from the Caribbean, the first question, naturally, tends to be: “Why would you move here then?” While there’s a multitude of reasons (the easy access to Rainier cherries not the least among them), it simply comes down to this: I admire Canada and what it stands for and want to be part of its evolution.
Moving here as a young adult was not a difficult choice – the shared colonial history with my native Trinidad & Tobago made a foreign land seem less alien and intimidating. Moreover, Canada’s policy of welcoming people meant that the multiculturalism I had grown up with would continue to surround me, but on a far greater scale.
Here, I was exposed to a community that was even more diverse than the one from which I had come.
I was able to interact with individuals from many more nations on a frequent basis, enabling me to learn so much about the world I was living in. One of my fondest memories from university is when my Venezuelan professor marveled at the fact that he could walk a few blocks in downtown Toronto and not hear a word of English the entire time.
These experiences helped to shape what I wanted out of life. Having the opportunity to live in a couple of other countries, I always knew that Canada – the place that offered me diversity not only in terms of landscapes (with its sweeping Rocky mountains, glorious glacier lakes, massive prairie lands and bordering two different oceans) but also through its weather, cultures, interests and people – was where I wanted to eventually settle and raise a family, if I were lucky enough to have one.
Don’t get me wrong – I do miss being able to drive the twenty minutes from my home to the beach, grab a bake and shark sandwich and bask in the sun while watching the waves roll in. But I’m also delighted that in Canada, I can drive a few hours to enjoy the beauty of Peyto Lake or – as I enjoy doing – even so many years later: stand outside, face raised to the sky and enjoy the fresh snow falling around me. More importantly, I can enjoy these things with my son as he grows up in this country, not needing to wait until he’s 30 to enjoy the deliciousness of a B.C. cherry!
It’s nearing six years since I’ve been in Edmonton and I’ve worked at Calder Bateman for almost as long. I like to think of CB as a microcosm of Canada – a warm, welcoming space that’s enabled me to thrive. The people are friendly, respectful, funny and engaging. And, just like Canada, you can find people from different parts of the world in our offices – from Malta to Wales to a twin island nation in the West Indies.
As I reflect on Canada’s 150th birthday, I am cognizant of the fact that, as a country, we are not perfect. But with the current state of world affairs,
I feel fortunate to be a citizen of a country whose prevailing attitude of kindness makes me proud and want to be a better individual.