My toast to Canada 150

July 6, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Well, well, well… It’s certainly been a little while since I sat down to write one of these. Over eight months in fact.

Just writing that seems absurd to me, but, quickly doing the math in my head, I’ve been in Orangeville now for closing in on nine months. Three quarters of a year! I guess it’s true what they say – time flies when you’re having fun.

And fun is probably the perfect way to describe the time I’ve spent in Orangeville thus far. I’ve been very fortunate in that my position here at the Citizen has allowed me to meet some incredible people throughout this community. Whether it’s been at the hockey rink, the movie theatre, Town Hall or even my favourite sandwich shop on Broadway – it’s been a lot of fun getting to know some of you locals over the past few months. Long may it continue.

Switching gears ever so slightly though… I couldn’t help but notice just how much fun people seemed to have last Saturday as Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. It was a special occasion for sure, and all of you, the people of Orangeville, seemed to go all out as you paid homage to this great nation.

It was a particularly special Canada Day for myself too. It was my first Canada Day as a Permanent Resident. You may recall my introductory column back in October… I’m originally from Manchester in the United Kingdom and moved to Canada in June of 2007. For the best part of a decade I bounced around from visa to visa, community to community, seemingly with no end in sight. While it was, shall we say, an experience living that somewhat nomadic lifestyle, it wasn’t, surprisingly, the best in terms of stability.

Fortunately, I was born something of a robot. I wouldn’t necessarily say I thrive in stressful situations, but I certainly don’t let them affect me. Looking back, there have been several instances throughout my time in Canada where one of my visas has been days away from expiring, or, in one instance, actually did expire. I just went with it and eventually figured things out.

On May 30, 2017, everything changed. That old lifestyle of waiting around, almost counting down the days until I had to apply for a new temporary stay of execution is gone. I stand before you now a proud Permanent Resident of Canada. It’s almost surreal even writing that. A little over a month on and I still don’t think it’s truly sunk in. I haven’t realized yet exactly what this means.

In short, I don’t have to worry anymore about potentially losing my job due to immigrational (new made-up word of the day) red tape. I don’t have to fork out hundreds of dollars year after year for a multitude of different visa applications. I don’t have to spend hours upon hours filling out and compiling all the necessary information for previously said visa applications. That makes me smile.

The smile grows wider when I realize I can vote now in upcoming elections. Heck, I could stand for election if I wanted!

Don’t worry Orangeville, that was a joke. I tend to make those a lot, despite how unfunny they always seem to be.

Perhaps most importantly for me, though, is the fact that in three years’ time I’m going to be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. Although my accent may tell you otherwise, I almost feel Canadian at this point. Sure, I spent the first 16 years of my life in the UK and while I’ll always be English at heart, I’ve picked up on so many Canadian tendencies and stereotypes over the past 10 years it’s actually ridiculous, eh.

That’s the first one. Anyone that has had any type of conversation with me at any point over the past nine months could likely tell you I use the word ‘eh’ more than Don Cherry does. I hold the door for people wherever I go, even if it means I have to awkwardly stand there for five seconds while the person approaching the door reaches me. And I apologize for literally anything and everything.

This was a couple of years ago now, but I distinctly remember someone spilling a beer all over me while I was sat at a table at a Boston Pizza in Alberta… Yep, you guessed it. I was the first to apologize. I know, what the heck is wrong with me?

Now, I don’t say ‘aboot’, I’m not a massive fan of Molson beer, I don’t adore hockey and I certainly don’t live in an igloo. So on that note, perhaps I’m not quite as Canadian as I think I am. Or at least not yet.

If any of you wily Canucks have some words of wisdom for me, I’ve got three more years of learning ahead of me before I really need to start worrying.

Raising my water bottle here in the Citizen’s office on First Street – here’s a toast to you Canada. Happy 150th birthday! And, for me, I guess we can rebrand this ‘Year One’ of my great Canadian adventure.

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