When you're a child of an immigrant in Canada, at some point, you realize you don't always fit in.
There's something "smelly" or "strange" about your packed school lunch, you're often fluent in another language before you learn English, and for many of us, you grow up rarely seeing yourself reflected in movies, television or books.
If you were like me, you hated everything about your parents' culture when you were younger -- the food, the superstitions, the clothes -- and you often struggled to be more "Canadian." Being Canadian (or in my eyes, being white) meant watching hockey, talking back to my parents, and not having to wear Indian clothes if I had to go to someone's wedding, among other things.
Growing up, I felt like I had to choose to be either Indian or Canadian, but now I've come to realize I can be both. Being Canadian doesn't just mean just doing stereotypically Canadian things like being polite or enjoying poutine; it can include my parents' culture and values as well.
My third grade school photo in Toronto.
I'm a second-generation Canadian (someone with at least one immigrant parent) and we counted for more than 5.7 million of the country's population in 2011, according to the National Household Survey. We're a group with well-defined characteristics.
"It's time to see our bodies and our stories reflected in mainstream media, to have conversations about uncomfortable topics like race and discrimination, and for some of us, talk to our parents for the first time about how we feel."
Second-gen Canadians are younger, more urban and typically live in major cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
They are millennials and influencers who are now raising the next generation of Canadians. They are superstar comedians like Russell Peters and Jus Reign, world-class athletes like Andre De Grasse and politicians like Tory MP Michael Chong. But also, they're people like me.
This is the generation born and raised in Canada, whose roots span across the globe. Our experiences are more common than we think, and we continue to redefine our home and native land.
It's time to see our stories and our bodies reflected in mainstream media, to have conversations about uncomfortable topics like race and discrimination, and for some of us, talk to our parents for the first time about how we feel.
Introducing Born and Raised. A Huffington Post Canada series that will delve into culture and language, growing up in Canadian cities and the responsibility some of us feel when we think about our parents' future. The stories are told by our editors, writers and by Canadians from coast to coast.
"It hasn't come easy, but I've started defining myself as Canadian, and a proud one too."
These are personal stories on growing up with blunt parents, features on racism within dating and short docs on taking care of your parents as they age.
We explore the effect of parents who never told us they were proud of us, what it means to be mixed-race in blogs, features, and through video and Facebook Live segments with our editors. These are daily conversations second-generations have with each other, but this time, on a larger platform.
We want to hear your stories too -- join the conversation on Twitter at #BornandRaised or send us an email at email@example.com.
It hasn't come easy, but I've started defining myself as Canadian, and a proud one too. And we're proud to be sharing our voices with you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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