My parents moved to Canada because they wanted to give their kids a better life.
Like many immigrants, they came to Canada not only for economic opportunities, but because Canada embodied the type of values and opportunities that they wanted to pass on to their children.
And I'm so thankful they did.
I learned the Canadian values of honour and respect growing up in an immigrant community in Toronto, filled with different cultures and languages.
I learned the Canadian value of freedom of religion by talking with my friends at school and my neighbors about their different faiths, and being invited to their community celebrations.
We didn’t have to mark different months to celebrate our cultures; we experienced them every day by simply being a part of each other's lives. Our government did not look for ways to divide us based on our unique identities. Instead, we found ways to celebrate being Canadian.
I learned about freedom of speech by growing up in a neighborhood where people spoke their mind. It wasn’t always perfectly comfortable, and if someone didn’t agree with you they told you: but they never demonized you.
I learned about the value of hard work from my parents and my friends' parents who knew that in Canada, a strong work ethic and the guts to do the right thing were enough to change their children’s lives.
To this day, immigrants and refugees come to Canada because they have heard about our Canadian values and they want to raise their children in this kind of country. I am proud of my Canadian identity, and you should be too.
Canada is the kind of country I was proud to be raised in;
The kind of country I have chosen to raise my children in; and
The kind of Canada I will always fight for.
Is that the kind of Canada you want?