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Nelly Furtado On Growing Up As A Child Of Immigrants And Being Told To 'Go Back To Portugal'

03/16/2017 10:05 EDT | Updated 03/16/2017 10:37 EDT

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Everyone loves Nelly Furtado, right? Well, that sure wasn't the case when the pride of Victoria, B.C., sang the national anthem at last year's NBA All-Star game and afterward faced a wave of online hate.

Performing alongside indigenous flute player Tony Duncan, Furtado played an unfamiliar arrangement of "O Canada" and the response was not just mean, it was xenophobic.

"Someone said, 'Go back to Portugal!' It's fine, I know it's just some stranger with a computer but I felt like the performance touched on a nerve and it actually scared me," Furtado recalled during a visit to HuffPost Canada's studio.

nelly furtado 2017

"I was like, 'Oh crap, we live in Canada and there's this covert racism and xenophobia and prejudice going on.' I've grown up as an ethnic minority. I'm first generation and my parents are from Portugal," she adds.

"I think the greatest Canadian story is yet to be told and as we all tell these stories of our experiences, and we are true and honest and real and not afraid, evolution is inevitable."

Furtado says she is very appreciative of her experience growing up with Portuguese parents and how that shaped her life and music.

"I was like, 'Oh crap, we live in Canada and there's this covert racism and xenophobia and prejudice going on.'"

"Being the daughter of immigrants has really informed who I am," she says. "My parents gave us the gift of attending Portuguese night school while speaking English as a first language at home. Right away, we were exposed to this duality that we could embrace both things, that we could embrace being Canadian and embrace our roots which was very empowering, actually.

"It taught me that I could also infuse those roots in my music, that there was a way to blend those worlds. There was a way to celebrate who I was rather than hide it, and for that to be a plus, a positive, and something that made me more interesting."

Watch our interview with Nelly Furtado in the video above.

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

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