Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am such a Canadian. I mentioned this in my opening comments during the Toronto launch for SHINE and some of my long time friends looked at me like, "Aw, hell. She done gone to the U.S. and changed."

See -- when I lived in Canada I always identified as Indian or Punjabi or South Asian. I never considered myself a Canadian. Until I moved to the U.S.

In one of my college classes, a professor asked us what the difference was between American culture and Canadian culture. No one knew the answer. Not a single one of us could name ONE thing that made us different from our southern neighbor, and unique as Canadians.

But now I can. In Canada, the arts are federally funded. Health care is free (at least for the time being). Gay marriage is legal, nationally. Education is more of a priority than the military. And within the communities I came up in, the arts were always intertwined with the spiritual, emotional, social and political. Nothing was created within a vacuum because the idea was that everything we created had the potential to influence, to transform, to evoke and to provoke.

I have grown up with the Canadian winds shaping me (along with freezing my buns). And I still adhere to those values I grew up with. They speak through my bones and form the very essence of who I am.

That's not to say that Canada doesn't have a whole heap of its own issues. It most definitely does. But it also produces artists who create works like this -- and for that, it will always be home:

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