Identity Is Complex For Mixed Canadians

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Most children of immigrants are regularly asked "Where are you from?" but Canadians of mixed heritage are also asked "Which side are you, really?"

Both questions cause a stir of emotions.

Many second-gen Canadians — individuals born to at least one immigrant parent — who are mixed particularly find that latter question the toughest to answer.

We know we look different — sometimes, not even like our parents. Some of us don't know about our parents' cultures or speak the languages, yet, there's often a desire for others to categorize us as belonging to one culture or the other.

Why isn't it enough to say we're Canadian? We were born and raised in Canada, we grew up eating "Canadian food", watching Canadian shows, and learning Canadian history. But because there is a struggle to define what it means to be Canadian, it can get more complex with other identities in the mix.

As part of the Huffington Post Canada's Born And Raised series, some of our editors of mixed backgrounds revealed how they respond to questions about their identities.

Read their personal stories about growing up in a mixed Canadian home below:

mixed canadians
Photo: Sonia Saund/Shuttersaund

"As I've gotten older I've developed a firmer definition of my self-identity. Though it's not exactly rock solid and I think I will always be a bit conflicted about how to scale the different races that make up me and my family, I know what defines me."

Read More from Angelyn Francis: When 'What's Your Background?' Turns Into A 20-Minute Argument

born and raised
Photo: Sonia Saund/Shuttersaund

"I don't believe the places where my parents were born define me. And I don't think they define them either. They're just labels, words we use to help us form connections, but also words that separate us."

Read more from Joy D'Souza: Who I Am Has Nothing To Do With Where My Parents Were Born

born and raised

"My mom and grandma, as Indian as they were, never really raised us with what I could obviously identify as Indian culture."

Read more from Mike Sholars: My Mixed-Race Family Has No Set Culture, But We Have Each Other

born and raised
Photo: Sonia Saund/Shuttersaund

"The question I've been asked consistently throughout my life is, "which side do you identify more with?" I hate this question. You are forcing me to choose between my Italian culture and my Filipino culture. It feels like you're asking me to decide between pasta and puncit. Between gelato and halo-halo. Between my mom and my dad."

Read more from Alanna Cardona: Divorce Split My Mixed-Race Family But Defined My Identity

Born And Raised is an ongoing series by The Huffington Post Canada that shares the experiences of second-generation Canadians. Part reflection, part storytelling, this series on the children of immigrants explores what it means to be born and raised in Canada. We want to hear your stories — join the conversation on Twitter at #BornandRaised or send us an email at

Also on The Huffington Post

Who Are Second-Gen Canadians?
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Filed by Joy D'Souza