Credit : Louise Labissonnière.
Theodoros Rizos is a student at Vanier College, in Montreal.In reaction to Victor Teboul’s article “New Approaches to Tolerance” I wish to share with your readers my own experience of my Canadian identity.
First of all, I was born in Canada, Montreal, Quebec to be exact. However, my parents are from Greece but my grandfather is from Constantinople (and not Istanbul). My grandmother is from Yugoslavia: this is on my mother’s side. My father’s side is Greek. Both his father and mother were born in Greece.
I speak Greek, French and English. So, I guess to others, that makes me Greek, French and Canadian. The languages spoken by my family are Slav or Yugoslavian or something that resembles Bulgarian. My grandfather speaks Turkish. Does this make me Turkish and Yugoslavian as well?
My parents lived in an era filled with conflicts
My parents and grandparents did not live in a multicultural era but rather a time filled with conflicts and wars. These wars were so difficult to endure that people would rather forget them than actually be part of one or another nationality. This would be the case of my dad. He saw the murder of his father, friends and relatives. His father was murdered because he helped save the lives of people. Due to that, he was thought to be a spy. His relatives and friends were killed or beaten because they spoke a different language. So, when I ask him where we are from, he would rather say we are Canadian.
I, on the other hand, have a different view of things. When I am in Canada, I am a Greek-Québécois; when I am in Québec, I am a Greek-Canadian; and when I am in Greece, I am a Canadian-Québécois! I say all this mockingly because we live in a world that wants peace, yet we keep establishing these borders of ethnicity that keep us apart and I think I understand why. It is because we don’t want to lose or forget our culture or things that make us proud of our country and make us who we are. For example, sometimes I dislike things about Canada and favour Greece or sometimes I like Greece and dislike Canada or Québec. But in the end, I need them both; they both have what is part of me and so I am part of all this history as well.
What would I really like to answer when I am asked where I am from? I would like to answer: ”I am a member of the human race, from planet Earth, no different from you”. Everybody has their differences and I am just the same. I like and dislike stuff, I hate and love, feel pain and loss, cry and laugh, just as any human would. I also can be prejudiced. I may hate Turks mostly because of the history that has been taught to me.
I am who I am and that is all. I am a human, Greek, French-Québécois, Canadian with an historical background that comes from planet Earth.