Identity, residency and legal status

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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.

 

Permanence

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In September, I wrote about the process of applying for permanent residence. I also explained that I did not have a time line for having my application processed:

“Now we are waiting. We are hoping that Wife will be approved as a sponsor in January or February. Once she is approved as a sponsor, I can apply for an open work permit. An open work permit is valid until a decision is made regarding my application for permanent residence.  We do not have a time frame for the processing of my permanent residence application. It might take a few months, it might take a year.”

In December I was obsessively checking the application processing times posted on the CIC website every few days (even though they were updated irregularly). According to their website, our application was just about to begin being processed. However, just before Christmas, we received three letters from CIC.

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How I Broke My Ankle in One Easy Step

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This year has been rather challenging – homesickness, immigration and looming unemployment. So I was surprised that in many ways coping with a broken ankle has been harder than all these things combined. Writing about my experiences has been extremely cathartic. I can see how far I’ve come: from not being able to walk down a hallway to racing from place to place on my crutches, being able to get in and out of cars and how much more bearable the pain has become. Furthermore, my own fears become more manageable when I write them down.

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Where are these purple wearing fuckers the rest of the year?

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When I was in year eleven, my maths teacher made some truly disturbing and Islamophobic comments. He taught the class how to prepare a molotov cocktail for when “Muslims invaded Australia.” Then he told us that he was prepared and willing to kill one or two dozen Muslims before they managed to kill them.

Obviously I complained to our co ordinator. My maths teacher started ignoring me and my questions in class.

Approximately two months later, he told the class that homosexuality is wrong. He also told us that, while he found the idea of two men kissing disgusting, he liked to watch women kiss.

I didn’t have the courage to complain to the the co ordinator. I was out to a select group of friends, but I didn’t want my sexuality to be a source gossip in the V.C.E room. So I just decided that rather than risk having him as a teacher, I would drop maths for year twelve.

My sexuality affected my school experience in a very tangible way. I don’t know a single queer identified person who escaped the education system unscathed. Increased awareness of the experiences of LGBT youth is vital. Which is why, in theory, events such as Wear Purple day are important.

Aisling at Dreamling wrote an awesome entry explaining why she thinks that wearing purple to raise awareness of the bullying and harrassment of LGBT youth is a good idea. I’m not opposed to wearing the colour purple – I’m wearing a purple t-shirt to work and belly dancing class.

However, I want to know where are these allies when something needs to be done? Why didn’t anyone in my maths class say, “That was inappropriate”? Why haven’t my straight Australian friends been sending letters to their MPs demanding equal marriage rights? Why weren’t my straight Australian friends at same sex marriage support rallies? Why weren’t my straight Canadian friends at Pride? Why do I still need to explain to my straight Canadian friends why saying “That’s so gay” is offensive? Why do I still need to explain to my straight Canadian friends that asking how I have sex is offensive?

To be an angry fucking queer, I want to know what these purple wearing fuckers are doing for the rest of the year.

If you are combining wearing the colour purple with every day acts of activism, then I am super stoked and I want to be your best friend. However, I’m worried that people are going to participate in wear purple day, forget all about the tragic circumstances which lead to it and ignore the every day acts of activism that are so important to making the world safe for young LGBT people.

Visitor’s visa

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I’ve been busy lately. As I’ve mentioned on Twitter, my work permit expires in January and I am not able to renew it. So I applied for a visitor’s visa. I was really worried that my application would not be processed before my work permit expired and that I would need to leave the country. Fortunately I’m allowed to legally remain in Canada until a decision is made.

Compared to a permanent residence application, applying for a visitor’s visa application was super simple. I just needed to complete a form explaining why I originally came to Canada, why I wanted to stay longer and how I intended to support myself. We also needed to gather supporting documents. So Wife obtained another letter from her employer outlining her position and salary and she also wrote a letter stating that she would support me.

Actually I wrote the letter. She’s far too busy and stressed from working to support our family to have time to write a letter saying that she will support our family. Perhaps I should have put that in the letter.

It was mostly stressful because I needed to persuasively yet succinctly explain why I should be allowed to stay. It’s like a job interview. You need to convince the person reading your application that you should be chosen.

Family Friday: And Baby Makes More

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Last month I bought And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents and Our Unexpected Families. I can’t believe that I waited so long to read it!

And Baby Makes More is an amazing and diverse anthology. It includes stories from sperm donors, egg donors, queer offspring, biological mothers and queer families.

I thought that all the stories were interesting. However, I have to highlight the essay “The Spawn, the Spawnlet and the Birth of a Queer Family.” It features the point of view of several members of a queer family that includes a lesbian couple, their sperm donor who eventually becomes a lover to one of the mothers, the sperm donor’s ex girlfriend and her two lovers, the sperm donor’s ex boyfriend and their close friends who became family members. Their family shows that it is truly love, not genetics, that creates a family. They wonderfully demonstrate that our potential to create queer families are only limited by our imagination. I feel energised and inspired to think outside the box in the pursuit of our own family.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in creating intentional families. It is definitely not a how to guide. Several stories do not have happy endings. Or the authors are still working through problems. However, I felt truly inspired and energised whilst reading this book and amazed at the diverse forms that our families can take.

Immigration: an explanation

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Several people have asked me how I am applying for permanent residence in Canada. This blog post is about our personal experience of preparing an application. It does not, obviously, constitute legal advice.

You are not automatically entitled to permanent residence when you marry a Canadian! However, you are allowed to apply for a visa. We are applying for an in Canada Spousal or Common Law Partner visa. As the name suggests, you must be married or in a common law relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and currently living in Canada. In order to apply, you must complete several reams of paperwork.

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