I’ve been pondering this topic – identity, residency and legal status – for about a month.
In February I received my permanent resident (PR) card. It’s a very important important piece of ID: you need it to leave and re-enter Canada as a permanent resident and to access certain government services. It is also the end of my application for permanent residency.
Now I jokingly identify as “Canadian Lite” – most of the responsibilities, most of the rights. Compared to living in Canada on a working holiday visa, I do have some important additional rights: I am allowed to live in Canada indefinitely (so long as I meet PR requirements), I pay the same school fees as Canadians and my Social Insurance Number does not expire. However, my limitations are very similar to those that applied to my working holiday visa: can’t vote, can’t receive EI, can’t serve on a jury and am not eligible for certain government jobs.
However, I’m surprised by how much easier it is to view Canada as my home. I feel far less homesick. Plus I feel so much happier. I don’t anxiously check our mail everyday, looking for the brown kraft paper envelope used for government correspondence. I don’t anxiously refresh the CIC website, hoping for additional information on the application process. I don’t lay awake at night, anxiously making contingency plans.
My privilege as a white English speaking immigrant is much more apparent. I can complain about Canadian politics, culture and society. I argue with my co workers about minimum wage, living wage and the necessity of trade unions. I can joke that “Canada is bullshit. I was promised that the cops ride horses.” No one will tell me that I should go back to where I came from.
Like most of my rambles on identity, I don’t have a neat conclusion for this one.