Are you more Canadian than me?

I call Pa today and he joyously tells me, "It's Canadian (sic) Day!"

My father happened to be born in a country where a brutal war occurred in his most formative years, where he lost both of his parents before the age of 6, and soon after suffered extreme child labour abuses and a cruel dictatorship in his adult years. There was no question that life in Canada was paradise -- a bounty of riches that a lot of us have... only by the sheer luck of having been born here.

My father was not legal when he landed in Quebec. Yes, there are rules. There are laws that protect and make a country function, prevent chaos. I'm, by nature, a rule-follower and often a stickler for adherence to these laws. But my father? He defied them all, and I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been such a bad-ass.

For newcomers, picking up and moving to a foreign land without friends, family ties, a guaranteed job, or knowledge of the language? It's tough. Yet somehow, they cobble things together, desperately trying to make things work, just to prove they can do it. And they do. My parents were some of the hardest-working people I've ever known. They didn't have the intellectual know-how to sit in an office and have a cushy life, but Canada, at the time, opened its arms to them, folks who may not have been desirable on paper, but who, through their own grit, could make a thriving, self-sufficient life and contribute to this country in their own unique way.

There isn't a Canada Day that goes by where I'm not constantly scanning my environment, recognizing that most people in my circle are direct children of immigrants or newcomers themselves. And then I recognize, well, that's silly of me: aside from the original keepers of this land, we're all immigrants, some of us with just longer history in this country than others. Does that make someone more Canadian than me or my father? HELL NO.

So today, I'm supremely thankful to my parents and for my friends' parents and grandparents, etc., for choosing this sprawling land as their settling point. And to Canada, for letting us contribute to the different shades that make this country what it is: because that's what this is about/aboat/aboot, right?

HAPPY CANADA DAY, ALL.

Newcomer Kitchen: An employment program for Syrian refugees + beyond

A group of Syrian moms have recently taken over The Depanneur, a local Toronto kitchen, to do what they do best -- cook delicious Syrian food for the masses, while earning an income at the same time. This program is a brilliant idea, but requires some extra funds to turn this into an official employment program for not only Syrians in Toronto, but any newcomer groups in other cities, too.

Most of us who live in any large city can empathize with the ridiculous costs of transportation, daycare, and rising rents... even those of us who have a relatively decent income aren't immune. I can't imagine what it's like for people who are truly struggling to find funds to pay for all of this, but are also simultaneously forced to deal with a new country, culture, language, and discrimination. And that's why I think this program is incredible.

If you have a few dollars and can sacrifice a dinner out this week, please toss your money over here. Sweet fundraising incentives, too!

Check out their Fundrazr page and donate soon -- they're running out of time and low on funds!