I don't really know what I am musing on these days. It's more like an irregular stream of consciousness thing...it seems to be working.


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w July 03, 2009

Thoughts On The New World

It was kind of roundabout how I came to finally view the passenger manifesto for my grandfather and great-grandparents, and they in fact emigrated to Canada from Wales, which would have been a more appropriate post two or three days ago, but anyway my point is, I had never seen this before. There was something startling and profound about seeing the lives of three people whose blood I carry reduced to a handful of data on an officious looking form, but at the same time, it really underscored the fact that here in the Americas, most all of us came from people who were *lucky* to have that much information noted down about their arrival in the "new world". Think about the numbers that had names changed or worse, didn't want to come in the first place. And then think about the sheer numbers who came with very little - if anything - in their pockets, and where their descendants are today.

It amazes me that that little family of three landed in Halifax (and continued ON to Vancouver) with $170 among them (which frankly, in 1920, wasn't that shabby, I'll admit), no higher education until my grandfather made it to university after Normal School, straightforward working class, and yet...here I am in graduate school like it's a normal thing. My father taught university. I'm fairly well traveled, and can even understand things like other languages and music and art and to a somewhat lesser degree the sciences. Like it's no big deal. The great-grandfather who moved his family halfway around the world with less than $200 had to drop out of school after 8th grade to help support his family, but chose to go to evening school. As a teenager. What sort of teenager actually CHOOSES to go to school?

And I realize that I have had other advantages based on race or socio-economic status that other descendants of immigrants have not, but at the same time, I think it still points out the comparative collective freedom we have here (and by here, I really do mean North America) to not necessarily be confined to whence we came.

Is this a sappy and sentimental post? Yup. But I'm going to post it anyway. Happy Independence Day, y'all.

by Heather Hoffman at 10:25 PM