People are always going on about how Canadians aren't patriotic enough, saying that Canada doesn't have something to identify it. They think that since there are so many cultures living in one place, we can't possibly have something that links us all- what they need to realize is that this is Canadian identity- multiculturalism.
Toronto is a place where people of different races walk the same streets and no one looks twice. The best part of living in a city like Toronto, is that you can be a part of your own enclave, your own religion, and you own culture, while at other times, you can be a part of so much more.
While sitting in a York University classroom after going to a high school that only had people of one religion and one culture, I would sometimes smile to myself at the fact that I was the only one with white skin in the room at all. This is in part because I never thought of myself as "white." Canadian: yes, white: no.
Growing up in Thornhill and attending Hebrew schools throughout my life, I was surrounded by people with backgrounds from Eastern Europe and Israel, just like myself, and it was a safe place to be. I'm proud of where I'm from, and although Toronto will always be my home, my ties to Israel are strong. This is something that although feels unique to some, is not at all- many people feel that they are much more than simply Canadian.
What was so great about starting my undergraduate degree at York, was seeing this from so many different people. They were proud of their own culture and beliefs. In the English department, where such differences were embraced through literature, we often found ourselves vastly different, yet inextricably linked.
I grew up proud to be part of a minority group in Canada. I may live in an enclave of people with the same background, but I've always enjoyed that just a quick subway ride away, I could be a part of so many interesting and diverse cultures.
Living in Toronto, people often get tired of getting asked where they're from. They will ask if they're only being asked because they are black, or brown, or Asian. I would like to tell them sorry, but here that doesn't make you special. You are just like every one else. I want to know your story no matter what the colour of your skin is.
I ask many people this question because it doesn't cease to amaze me how many different places people are from in the city of Toronto, and how many interesting stories they have.
I, myself, love being asked this question, so I can say: no, I am not just "white" or Canadian, I come from a place with many amazing and brave people and I'd like to tell you all about it.
People need to stop complaining about the people that they share the city with, look around, and feel lucky to be part of a world where all of us living together is possible.