Friday, December 26, 2008

Homes and Native Lands

As threatened promised, through this holiday season, I am reviving another previous post. Now that our days are growing longer once again, I thought we could revisit the summer of 2007 when the days were long, sunny and hot. I should have some new photos for your semi-soon. In the meantime, thanks for understanding the lull.

There's a lovely community park, complete with man-made lake, fishing dock, playground, picnic areas and mini water pad
just fifteen minutes along the footpaths of my neighbourhood. The area has evolved to reflect the changing population over the past twenty years.

When I first moved to this region, the park contained a small amphitheatre where local talent entertained audiences on summer nights and weekends. As its popularity diminished, the area was transformed into a children's splash pad to accommodate the increasing number of young families who reside here. Ours is a multicultural community, which is evidenced by the variety of bright,
kidlet faces encountered daily.

I've been walking and biking the paths of this park system for years. There are familiar faces that nod and greet me, and occasional characters who make a point of actually stopping to chat for a bit. Yesterday evening, my path crossed with another regular whom I hadn't yet seen this summer, so I joined him on the park bench to visit for a few moments. We discussed how the neighbourhood has grown, and he referred to the bustling park as having once been "this area's best kept secret." As we continued talking, it soon became apparent that he was displeased with the growth.

"There are so many new people in the area now." he said while nodding toward a dark-skinned jogger "The whole face of the city has changed."

I knew where he was heading and I hoped to redirect the conversation somewhat by saying that I thought change was usually a pretty good thing. He glanced at me and agreed that change can be positive as long as it wasn't forced upon us. His eyes locked with mine for a brief moment, and I vaguely detected a challenge. I regretted asking it as soon as the words left my mouth, but there was no retreating. "How so?"

He replied with "As long as they adapt, and do things the way we do them here, and not try to force their ways on us."

I should have let it go, but I had to persist. "Like what?"

"Well, you know. Like curry." He smiled and rolled his eyes at the same time.

Curry? This fellow expressed his concern for wayward cooking spices, while his cigarette smoke wafted over to me and settled in my hair. I smiled back at him, told him that I happened to like curry, and then abruptly changed the subject before continuing my walk.

I was born here, as were my parents, though none of my grandparents were native-born Canadians. As I see it, this made them immigrants, and they were probably subject to the criticism and complaints of locals who felt they had to endure the influx of the foreigners of their time. They came from Poland, Russia and England, and brought with them their beliefs, language, traditions and recipes. They adapted to Canadian customs while maintaining their own, and over time, we were enriched by how their cultures shaped ours. The fact that immigrants feel secure enough to practice their beliefs and celebrate their culture while embracing ours, is one of the many freedoms that should make us feel proud of Canada, not critical of it.

Sadly, there are people who see immigrant as synonymous with illegal, Muslim with terrorist, and visible minority with foreigner. Too often I hear feelings expressed that sadden me. In the wake of 911, we were constantly reminded to exercise tolerance. Although it was intended as open-minded and giving, I found the sentiment to be quite distressing. We don't want to go about our lives being tolerated. We all want to be respected, if not always because of our differences, at least in spite of them.

By virtue of a generation or three, today's immigrants are the same Canadians our ancestors were. In time, their children will be born into their citizenship as our parents were, and their grandchildren will have always felt they belong, just as we do. I hope that as they encounter the diverse, new faces and languages in the parks and city streets, it will enkindle both their sense of pride and belonging. As such, their lives and ours can only be enriched.

Throughout the summer, you can find animated groups assembled around these waterfront tables playing cards, chess, checkers and other games. These folks have gathered to play Mahjong.

This small dock is often packed with people and their fishing rods. It's a great spot for children to learn, newbies (like me) to practice and even experienced anglers to pass some time.

Around a distant bend, you can see just how many people had the same idea about wetting their lines that day.

On a scorching, hot day, the splash pad offers cool, wet fun for the kidlets.


Catch it if you can!

A mom manages to stay dry while she keeps a watchful eye on her child.

Despite the lack of sand, these little girls brought toys for digging, packing and floating.

This mischievous, little cutie found a way to use her sand pail to help her friend cool off.

Water, water everywhere...


Mental P Mama said...

Beautiful. I love the shot of the four people in hats...just beautiful.

Frank Baron said...

This post contained some of my favourite shots. And you expressed your thoughts cogently and eloquently. Bravo. :)

G said...

I'm so proud of our country for the photos you share - I love the diversity for all its reasons, but mostly because it constantly teaches me to learn new things, new ways and to be open to new ideas. I'm an immigrant (when I was 10) so grateful to be here! Beautiful words and pics... as usual. :)

Reb said...

Even reading it for the second time, it makes me a little miffed at that man. I would have asked him where his ancestors came from. I love the photos of the kids playing in the water.

Thérèse said...

Such a diversity in the choice of pictures and the matching text could apply to our own little corner here in Az or to each little corner in the big wide world...
Have a nice Holiday Season!

Leah J. Utas said...

Umm, unless you are of First Nations descent you are an immigrant.

Great pics.

blunoz said...

The action shot of the water flying across from the yellow bucket is amazing!

Cheffie-Mom said...

These pictures are absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Shammickite said...

The small town I live in is changing too... lots more people with strange sounding names and assorted skin colours are visible at the grocery stores and at the new WalMart. Lots of locals are against this rapid expansion saying it's changing the face of the town too fast, but if thing's didn't change, it would be stagnation. I welcome the changes.

dmmgmfm said...

I absolutely love the photos. Makes me yearn for summer though...

photowannabe said...

Change can be difficult but its what life is all about. If we don't move ahead we stagnate and die. I do like diversity and we were pretty much immigrants in some generation.
Great pictures. They are like a smorgasboard of culture.

Anonymous said...

Technicolor children make me smile :)

Pat - Arkansas said...

How fortunate I am to have found your wonderful blog, Hilary. Thank you for re-posting this particular piece; it's great. I see I have much archive reading to do to bring myself up to "read-it-all" status.

Wishing you a most Happy New Year!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great post and pics. We're a giant melting pot here in Baton Rouge, and we're so much better for it, sharing so much between cultures.

Dave said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on immigrants and agree with most of them. Your photos of people and the ones of children were great Hilary. - Dave

Sandra said...

"We don't want to go about our lives being tolerated. We all want to be respected, if not always because of our differences, at least in spite of them."

Very profound, Hilary. I don't think I've heard that expressed just that way before. Well said.

And the pictures -- different than most I've seen you post, but still top-notch like all of your photos. And they give a real sense of what your nice neighborhood is like. What a great place it must be to live (even with chain-smoking "Grumpy" as a neighbor!:) I especially like the fishing ones.

Zuzana said...

What I loved most about my 10 years in North Carolina was the weather.;) No doubt there.;)

But right after that came the people. It is difficult to explain, but the diversity in the American culture made them open minded and curious about the unknown.

I know you are Canadian;), but the sentiments in this post remind me of a culture I once called home.
This post is very poignant to someone like me, a child of immigrants, who continued moving through her adult life all around the world. And it has been people such as yourself, who unselfishly and freely embraced the unknown and foreign, that made my life easier in every way.

It warms my heart in more ways than one, to know that people like you exist, Hilary.;)

Beautiful to see warm, summer pictures in the middle of a long dark winter.;)

the Bag Lady said...

I always have to wonder about the thought processes of folks like this man.... We are all descendants of immigrants, unless we happen to belong to one of the First Nations bands, and even they immigrated here, if you think about it! Sheesh.

Great photos, Hilary, and a very thought-provoking post!

Michelle H. said...

Lovely photos. Strange how that man could not see the beauty that diversity can provide without looking for something negative to gripe about. Too bad he didn't have a camera in his hand to capture such moments, like you did.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

the guy is an a$$h*le of course, and what people need to realize is that a community it lucky to have new people, new faces, new ideas, otherwise the place stagnates and starts to head back down the evolutionary ladder into the slime...

Dr.John said...

People are always afraid of others who are " different" and who will change things. People don't like change in general unless things are bad.
But they grow and change anyway.

Aly @ Lip Zip said...

Your photos always look like they've come straight from a magazine. They are so beautiful. I love this post and you are so eloquent with your words.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Well put.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, MPM. I'm glad you like it. :)

• Thank you, Frank. You know that means a lot to me. :)

• Thanks very much, BPG. You clearly have a first-hand understanding of what it means. I'm so glad that your experiences are good ones. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks, Reb. I never thought to ask him that, but suspect he might not have made the connection. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Therese. I'm sure there are similar places everywhere. Thanks for the good wishes and right back at you. :)

• You're perfectly correct, Leah. We're all foreigners in that way. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Blunoz. I'm glad you liked it. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Cheffie. The same to you and yours. :)

• Shammie, as time goes by, those names won't sound all that strange anymore and faces will not stand out as "different" to their eyes. Hopefully. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Welcome, Laurie and thanks for the kind words. I'm alway yearning for summer. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Photowannabe. You're right about change being good. How can we go wrong when learning new things? Thanks for the visit. :)

• KC, your comment made me smile. "Technicolor children" is a wonderful way to describe these kidlets. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks so much for your very kind words, Pat. I feel very fortunate to have found yours as well. Thanks for stopping by, and best New Year's wishes right back at you. :)

• Thanks very much, Angie. I've heard lots about the culture of N.O. It sounds like a great place and I'd love to see it one day. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very much for the kind words, Dave. Much appreciated. :)

• Thank you, Sandra. Your very kind words are much appreciated. I do love this neighbourhood. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, Protege. I'm so glad to hear that your life experiences, in what were new countries to you have been good ones, and that none of the characters like the one in my post made themselves known. And no doubt your amiability is immediately apparent to those you encounter wherever you go, much as it is in this blogosphere. Thanks for your very kind words, Z. :)

• Thanks very much, Baggie. You're right, of course. It's only a matter of when, and not if, our ancestors arrived here. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Michelle. That man has been around the planet longer than I, and if he's not seeing the beauty by now, he likely never will. Thanks very much for the kind words. :)

• I totally agree, Gary. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Very true, Dr. John. People often feel threatened by others' cultures, beliefs and orientations, and inflicted upon rather than enlightened. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Aly. That means so much to me. :)

• Thanks, Jenn. :)

Crabby McSlacker said...

I remember this one, glad to see it again! It really stuck with me. A great one to share with newer readers who could have missed it.

david mcmahon said...

Beautifully put, Hilary. Great shots, too.

As a proud migrant, I hear you loud and clear.

JC said...

Great post. Love the pictues. Especially the last one. To capture water in motion is no easy task. Thanks for sharing.

Dianne said...

I love these photos. Each one a celebration of people.

and your lovely words

you go girl :)

Suldog said...

We have to be understanding of those older folks who feel challenged, just as we do of those who are new to a land. They both contribute to the total mosaic. And they are both facing something new and, quite possibly, frightening.

Happy New Year!

lime said...

excellent reflections and marvelous pictures to illustrate your points.

respect truly is the key...respect from all sides so we can learn from each other and form a true community.

Kappa no He said...

Yesterday I was outside with the dog talking to the neighbor kids. One had a cousin visiting who had never met a 'foreigner' before. He looks at me, puts his hand on his hip and says, So what? You just got off the plane, huh? I had to laugh. Now, had he been an adult...

Woman in a Window said...

LOVE the four fishing people and their hats, lined up just so. As the shot of the many on the dock is hilarious if you've ever fished!

What a thoughtful and resonating post. And it does nothing short of make me angry that people put up walls at differences instead of opening arms.

Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D., Instructor said...

What a lovely essay. I just got dropped by a FaceBook "friend" over this very issue: I wish I had your way with words when I started the argument with her!

samie said...

respect is definitely the key word! respect and the willingness to learn and grow and change - to be enriched by our friends and neighbors! we can learn so much from each other - it's such a pity that some people are so afraid of people and things who are not like them. =) your post really made me smile. thank you!

Anonymous said...

Firstly let me begin by saying its not my intention to offeny you for all your hard work putting the blog together or your readers. I do however find it strange that you are celibrating multi cultural canada when the europeans, lets be brave here and call ourselves white at the risk of offending some, We white nations are the only idiots promoting multi cultural nonsence. The japs aren't the chinese arn't the stinking corrupt african states arn't its only the first world white nations who think its going to apease their own moral conscience. This is a delusion and a load of rubbish. You have let in a bunch of snakes that will grow up and dilute your gene pool and rubbish your unique culture. The liberals of the west are a thousand times more dangerous than hitler or osama or any other crazy despot, even black gond mandela is a crap head white hater. Look it up on you tube. search for mandela sings about killing whites. I know you dont want to hear the truth but its there for all to see, unedited. My point is the british government still erects a statue to honour this convicted terrorist outside their own parliament!!! Why? So they look all politically correct. What would you say if your loved ones were murdered by terrorist mandela? Would you praise this desperate act of mulit cutural madness.
Be proud of your race no matter if you are black or white or indian or chinese. We are all human beings but for gods sake stop trying to convert the rich tapestry of humanity into a singular politically correct mono culture. Its not natural and it will never work, not in a thousand years.
Respect each other views and heritage. Stop the madness that is politically correctness.

Anonymous said...

O - I nearly forgot.

Mandela is a terrorist. God will sort the bastard out . He will burn in hell along with all those who pretended that the murder of inocent civilians was ok as long as there was some crappy reason. We warned you liberals against supporting Robert mugabe and now see what has happened, genocide only you are too scared to admit it.You have blood on your liberal hands. You called us white racists because we fought a bush war to stop mugabe and mandela taking power. You have the blood of millions of inocent s on those politically corerect ill imformed hands.
We warned you not to support the murderous anc in south africa and now you have genocide , rape every 22 seconds and murder up to 90 a day... Your liberal silence will fool a lot here on earth but one day you will have to answer for your omissions.God will sort you liberals out for meddeling with his creation.

Mandela = mugabe = poll pot = hitler = stalin.

O - I know you wont put this in your comments section but then again your conscience is already so muddled by the hate and bigotry that drives your liberal world to turn against its own kith and kin.
Love your race.

Justin Smith said...

You are one of the few bloggers I've read who actually writes well. That is not to say that other bloggers are bad at writing, but I can tell you are exceptional because you have worked hard to master the craft of writing. I love your writing style and hope to one day write as well as you.

Also, congratulations on your blog of note.

Anonymous said...


fuck the lot of you!

Have a wonderfull 2009

As a former white soldier from africa , let me leave you with a very un pc thought.

Think of all the blacks that will die in africa this year because you tried to be liberals with their corrupt leaders.Send them more food aid etc
Only the whites like us from southern africa know how to handle the black african.

Be very hard on him. Only when you have cracked his skull does he respect you as his master and l;eader.
Be soft and liberal like you politicall correct bunny huggers and you know what? He thinks (correctly) you are soft and an easy push over. Liberals are daft trouble makers the world can do without!

Have a blessssid 2009.

Oberon said...

.....i invite you to join globalove think tank.

lunarstarsun said...

I really enjoyed the pics!
I thought it was such a great posts!
All of your posts are wonderful!
Keep blogging!

Watson said...

five years or so ago I visited a friend in Toronto. She lived near a park much like the one you described. It was fascinating to listen to all the different languages and see all the different faces. thanks for appreciating that dimension of our Canadian life and writing so well about it ... with pictures!
Barbara - writing for Daisy

Mortgage Advisor said...

Love the water, water everywhere pic :-) Other pics are beautiful too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

ipa said...

Oh My Goodness!

What a smashing blog - love the pictures - love your words - love the pictures of the kids. Makes me smile - and I need that!

And - am proud that I have my Canadian links through 7 British Home Children.

IPA- a Brit in California

Anonymous said...

Where the white women at?

Andrea said...

Congrats on the blog of note from a fellow Ontario resident! :) I love the diversity of our country and of our province..your words and photos captured it so eloquently! Thanks for glad I stopped by. :)

dian nafi said...

beautiful places. it inspires me. thank you.....

Anonymous said...

Love the photo of the people sitting on the dock.

Searching Soul said...

What a nice blog you have here. Congrats for being chosen as one of the Blogs of Note!

Keep up the wonderful work.

Searching Soul

Amber said...

I love your photographs. Remember the activities of summer, seeing them portrayed so beautifully, did make me feel warm in this bitterly cold season.

Anonymous said...

ahhh summer, the good ole days

5windsOfvenus said...

Hmmm makes me miss summer.... So much snow right now!!

Lovely photos!
Thanks for sharing...


AASir said...

Very nice!

Hilary said...

• Thanks for reading it again, Crabby. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very much, David. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Thanks kindly, JC. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Aww thanks, Dianne. Not a Benny shot in sight and you're still cheering me on. :)

• Thanks for your perspective, Sully. You're right of course but it just gets a tad frustrating when these new faces are just our recycled ancestors, so to speak. But I hear you. Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year to you and YOUR WIFE too. :)

• Thanks very much for your kind comment, Lime. Much appreciated. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Too funny, Terrie. I suppose it's pretty much a universal reaction. Only kids would have such an outspoken manner though.. kids and anonymous posters. ;) Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, WIAW. I'm glad you liked that first photo. And true the second one was indicative of a warm summer day in the suburbs. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your always evocative thoughts. :)

• Virginia, I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friendship, but I suppose if you each felt so strongly and differently on the topic, to override the good parts of your relationship, this rift would have happened over something else sooner or later. Still I'm sure that doesn't take the sting out of the loss. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments. :)

• Thanks very kindly, Samie. I'm glad I could make you smile. Thank YOU for linking to my post on your blog today. You returned the smile. :)


• Thanks very much, Justin. I was totally unaware of "blogs of note" until my blog hits went through the roof today! Thanks for being one of those who clicked and commented kindly. :)

putting boots on to step over the next rant...

• Thanks for stopping by, Oberon.

• Thanks very much for the kind words, Lunarstarsun. :)

• Thanks kindly for stopping by with your kind comments, Barbara/Daisy. Much appreciated.. and so wonderful that you have a rescue pup. Good for you. :)

• Thank you, MT. :)

• Thanks very kindly, IPA. I'm glad I could make you smile. I wish the very best for you and yours. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks ever so kindly, Andrea. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and hope you'll be back again soon. :)

• Thank you, Diannafi. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very much, lisa. I'm glad you like it. :)

• Thanks so much for the kind words, SearchingSoul. Very much appreciated. :)

• Thanks kindly, Amber. I'm glad I could add a bit of warmth to your day. :)

• Thanks for stopping by, Joseph. Don't worry, those days will return. I hope you do too. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very much for the visit, 5Winds. I'm always missing summer, so I know what you mean. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Aasir. :)

The villager: said...

I see you love wordplay.

Are you familiar with UK comic Tim Vine ? His whole act is based on playing with words, and hardly ever anything rude !

ASAM said...

Absolutely amazing pictures. You have captured a slice of Canadian life.

Blogger said...

You have great photos here and most of all, it all capture that special moment. Well done. Came across your site by "accident". Anyway, Happy New Year to you...from Sunny Island of Singapore!

Van Cong Tu said...

Lovely photos. it's very nice to be on blog of notes, isn't it? Your blog is getting even more popular now. Congrats from Vietnamese God!

Hilary said...

• Thanks for the tip, Villager. I've not heard of him but I intend to look him up. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks very kindly, AP. Much appreciated. :)

• Thanks very much, Ren. Those kinds of accidents are fine with me. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Godknows. I found it a tad overwhelming actually! But fun. Thanks for the kind words. :)

The Contessa said...

I'm not even going to comment on that goof, because it just encourages that kind of behaviour. What I will comment on is how awed I was at the group of fishers ... how did all those people fish together and not tangle up their lines?? Amazing!

Yolanda said...

I hope you have a wonderful New year.

gajlug said...

a smile for you dude, nice post

Hilary said...

• Welcome, Contessa. I have no idea how they managed, but they sure were amusing to watch, and more importantly, they had fun. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Yolanda. I did, and I hope you did too. :)

• Thanks Gajlug, smiling right back at you, but that's "dudette" to you! :) said...

Have a nice weekend!

Indrani said...

I am glad you are reposting again, it helps me know more.
Wishing you and yours a Very Happy New Year!

Hilary said...

• Thanks Actio. You too. :)

• Thank you, Indrani. Reposting was my lazy way out of keeping up with the posts through the holidays, but I do realize that many of them are new to most people. Thanks for stopping by and a very Happy New Year to you and yours too. :)

surekha tangri said...

wonderful,isited ur blog first time but its great.............

joesanchez said...

Impressive, i gladly stumbled onto your site. I appreciate your creativeness its no wonder youv'e been list highly!

ijennjenn said...

I love how you captioned your pictures... "this Mother" (not this muslim woman) or "this group" (not these chinese people). So many cannot see past race to who they are really looking at... Mothers, friends, fellow humans.

Hilary said...

• Welcome, Surekha and thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. :)

• Welcome, Joe and thanks very kindly. I'm glad you like my blog and hope you'll return again soon. :)

• Welcome, Dafiloola and thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you like the post and how it's labeled. We were all Canadians at the park that day, so why differentiate? Thanks very much for your kind words. Please return soon. :)

Kim said...

I love children. The pictures in here just made me smile.

Hilary said...

Thanks, KimLi. I'm glad for that. :)

Lynette Killam said...

I am so pleased to meet you, Hilary! This piece is wonderful…we do indeed share similar ideas about embracing life’s differences. I read through your comments and was not surprised to see an element of bigotry present -anonymously, of course! I live in a quiet suburb of Vancouver. Being on the Pacific coast, a great many immigrants find their way to us from Asia. In my neighbourhood, whites have become a minority now as Sikh Temples and Muslim Mosques pop up beside our churches. I love to look into the park behind me and see bright saris alongside jeans and tee shirts, and children of every colour chasing one another about.

In my university bookstore, I work with students and staff from all over the world, which makes every day an adventure. Unfortunately, not all are inclined to view such diversity as a good thing. Vandalism, name-calling and outright violence are far from rare here. Just this weekend, I noticed that an elaborately patterned tile wall our Indian neighbours have been working on for months was horribly defaced with red paint!

I didn’t mean to go on at length, Hilary! These pictures are wonderful, and your blog a delight…I will definitely come back and visit again…:)

Imagination Lane

Hilary said...

Welcome, Lynette. And thanks for the kind words. Yes, the worlds biggest bigots hide themselves well - as Anonymous bloggers or under white hoods. I loved what you wrote on your blog today and I'm glad that you stopped by to visit this link.