By Somaira Arshad
They ask me what I think it means to be a Canadian. I say that for me it has been one of the most significant transformations ever. Embracing Canada is like coming home. One kisses goodbye to many a futile pretensions that one had to carry in order to claim so called social relevance back home. Being a Canadian has helped me feel comfortable in my skin.
As a person
Once I came here I started to learn not only about this country and its people but most importantly about myself. I saw the weaknesses of my character as well as discovered the strengths that I never knew I had. Being here has helped me grow into who I’m really destined to be. I have observed and learned from real examples of personal glorification. I have smartened up morally and ethically. I am convinced that my real worth is beyond material possessions.
Thanks to Canadian education, work experience and social interactions I have actually been able to discover my very own strengths and weaknesses in order to prove and improve my standing as a human being. I’ve learned to take responsibility and be in-charge of my own fate as I know that my own character would direct the course of events in my life.
As a professional
As a keen learner throughout my life I had few expectations for my professional grooming when I came to Canada. First being a student and later a professional in this country has given a whole new perspective to my lifelong love for learning. The best that I’ve discovered is that a desire to acquire and apply new learning is a lifestyle rather than a chain of individually dispersed events.
Like all other character traits, people’s attitudes rather than mere actions illustrate their worth as professional learners. A learner develops her skills by being a natural seeker; being someone who is perpetually probing- analyzing facts and possibilities. Canadian learners know the meaning and importance of ‘research and ‘reflection’ in their lives.
As a model citizen
Being a Canadian taught me how serving my fellow citizens would actually empower me. My responsibilities towards others are immense and being able to fulfil them gives me leverage to live a fulfilling life. I’ve learned that to lead is not to rule, it is to perform in accordance with the needs of your fellow beings. We naturally earn our rights by fulfilling our duties towards others and by following the laws of the land in earnest.
In Canada I understood how this world has turned into a cosmic reality and how I am expected to fulfil my new responsibilities as a global citizen of today. I can truly understand the term ‘interconnectedness’ now.
As a woman and mother
Last but not the least, my journey through nations has helped me discover my true worth as a female. It has also made my success possible in all the roles that I was given by the right of being a woman. Canada might not be a perfect state when it comes to ‘isms’ and ‘tions’; sexism, gender chauvinism or male domination being a few examples. Yet it is far better than many dystopian places on Earth.
I feel proud as Canadians realize the scourge of discrimination and as Canadian intelligentsia keep working on educating the citizens how not to treat any sect of society (especially women, kids and visible minorities) as less than human beings. As Canadians my fellow citizens do not approve of abhorrent process of objectification of an equally important gender. As a result I feel secure, respected and empowered as a woman, a female partner and a mother.
In a nutshell I’d say I feel fortunate in being a Canadian citizen as I am now ready to contribute my efforts for the future well-being of my country so it keeps flourishing as a safe haven for present and future citizens.