Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

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[BRIEF NOTE] Immigration and Identity

I don't think of myself as an Ontarian. Ontario is too abstract an entity for me to really identify with. I lived for one year in Kingston, I've lived for another in Toronto, and I've visited Hamilton and Ottawa. I'm more likely to go to Montréal or even New York City than I am to visit Barrie or Penetanguishene. The idea of being an Ontarian--or worse yet, an Upper Canadian--does make any sense to me. After almost two years away from the Island, I still associate "Ontario" with "one province that gives us money." I do think of myself as a Torontonian. No matter that I haven't explored every neighbourhood in the city, not nearly. I still have an extensive store of experience with and appreciation for this metropolis where I live, acquired through first-hand experience. Toronto is a reality for me; Ontario, a mere geographical expression.

With some amount of stretching, my personal situation can be likened to that of immigrants generally. I wonder if first- and second-generation immigrant communities relate in a similar way to the social and political units that they live in, attaching themselves to those units they have direct experience of and feeling unattached to those units which are effectively irrelevant to them. Since I don't have access to scholarly databases with details on the socioklogy of immigration I can't answer this question, but there seem to be cetain signs of that in recent immigration history, with such things as the new Francophone immigrant community of Montréal identifying itself as Montréalais before Québécois and the strong attachment of New York City's Jewish and Hispanic populations to that metropolis.
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