Canada as a multicultural country is home to a diversity of backgrounds and that means that besides July 1st, there are other dates that represent independence to them. Of course, there are Heritage Day celebrations and Canadian Multiculturalism Day, which includes every immigrant, but a day for all just is not specific enough. This makes it important that immigrants still celebrate their home countries’ Independence Day although it is not considered a national holiday.
A lot of immigrants in Canada still make time to celebrate and honour their country of origin’s Independence Day despite being away from their families and native home. For most, that day brings a lot of beautiful memories of their backgrounds which create feelings of nostalgia. From very intimate celebrations alone and within a household, to well-planned community celebrations, immigrants take time to recall their cultures and share them.
A week ago, was my country of origin, Botswana‘s Independence Day, and I was instantly reminded of the busy streets and ungodly roars of honking cars and vuvuzelas, but most of all, how I missed the delicious, traditional food and live music. That was when I decided that since I ate poutine and dressed in red on Canada Day, it was only fair I eat seswaa and wear blue for Botswana day. My fellow Batswana in Edmonton could not celebrate with me, but I was fortunate to have my Canadian friends joining me for their first authentic Botswana traditional dinner and we had a lot of fun.
For Suniya Salat, a Canadian-Somalian young woman, having been born in Canada and never having a chance to visit Somalia for Independence Day, never meant she missed out on her culture. Her parents introduced her to the culture very young, and the tight Somalian community in Edmonton has taught her well. Although she couldn’t attend this year’s Independence celebration, she recalled that her community had organized a celebration at the Edmonton Expo Center in celebration of the Somalian Independence Day. She elaborated more on what they did to celebrate, “there was a lot of traditional food, live music and dancing, and everyone had fun.”
“We like pasta but made in our traditional recipe with lots of meat in it,” she shared.
Anugi Nanayakkara came to Canada from Sri-Lanka when she was in grade 3, and she still maintained celebrating her country’s Independence Day. She says joining in traditional dancing and festivals was always a fun way to celebrate. Back home, she used to go watch the Independence Day parade at the stadium or sometimes watch it from home with her whole family. While in Canada, she celebrates with her parents and sister, or would occasionally attend Sri-Lankan Community Independence parties that are usually held in a community hall.
“My mom would usually make a meal called Kiribath; a rice cake made with coconut milk.”
Jullie Sumayod left the Philippines, 4 years ago, but she still vividly remembers how she had fun celebrating Independence Day in the Philippines. She says Filipino Independence parties can never be successful without food or most specifically Lechon, a skewered whole pig roasted over charcoal. She says that back home, it was more of a national celebration where there would be gatherings in many regions. “Here in Canada a lot of people are busy so those who remember to celebrate usually go to a specific park and everyone brings a side dish, and we all eat, play games and have fun” she concluded.
Canada’s multiculturalism is represented by numerous Independence Day celebrations that are always around the corner and are just as fun as Canada Day. This is a chance to spread and share cultures that are all contributing to the country’s diversity and expand your palette. Go try some countries’ national cuisine, who knows? You might even love it because there’s a reason why a group of people chose it as their national dish.