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Passages
Cover of Passages
Passages
Welcome Home to Canada
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Foreword by Michael Ignatieff
Preface by Rudyard Griffiths, The Dominion Institute

Without departure, there is no arrival -- this is the experience of some of Canada's best-known émigré authors and public figures, shared in Passages: Welcome Home to Canada.

In first-hand accounts, these celebrated writers explore the excitement and anguish of uprooting to a new country. Childhood memories, familiar streets, the aromas of local cooking, long-cherished plans -- to leave all this behind can only be traumatic. And yet, to find a haven from oppression and danger, a place to carve out a new identity and put down new roots -- this is a thrill only an emigrant can know. In Passages we see this terrible pain and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for growth in delicate balance.

Alberto Manguel discovers the quiet pleasure of citizenship after years of cosmopolitan wandering. Ken Wiwa looks for a fresh start, far from the shadow of his martyred father in Africa. Nino Ricci, having grown up in an old-world Italian community transplanted to rural Ontario, describes his passage into the larger world, where other families don't bake their own bread or slaughter their own pigs. Shyam Selvadurai tells of his flight from the intolerance of his native Sri Lanka, where, as a Tamil and a homosexual, he found himself unwelcome. Moses Znaimer describes his parents' hair-raising escape first from Hitler and then Stalin, a series of adventures through Eastern Europe and Central Asia and finally across the Atlantic.

Introduced by Michael Ignatieff, Passages explores what it means to be a foreigner, what it means to be a writer and what it means to be a Canadian -- and what it means to be all three at once.

Contributors: Michelle Berry • Ying Chen • Brian D. Johnson • Dany Laferriere • Alberto Manguel • Anna Porter • Nino Ricci • Shyam Selvadurai • M. G. Vassanji • Ken Wiwa • Moses Znaimer

From the Hardcover edition.

Foreword by Michael Ignatieff
Preface by Rudyard Griffiths, The Dominion Institute

Without departure, there is no arrival -- this is the experience of some of Canada's best-known émigré authors and public figures, shared in Passages: Welcome Home to Canada.

In first-hand accounts, these celebrated writers explore the excitement and anguish of uprooting to a new country. Childhood memories, familiar streets, the aromas of local cooking, long-cherished plans -- to leave all this behind can only be traumatic. And yet, to find a haven from oppression and danger, a place to carve out a new identity and put down new roots -- this is a thrill only an emigrant can know. In Passages we see this terrible pain and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for growth in delicate balance.

Alberto Manguel discovers the quiet pleasure of citizenship after years of cosmopolitan wandering. Ken Wiwa looks for a fresh start, far from the shadow of his martyred father in Africa. Nino Ricci, having grown up in an old-world Italian community transplanted to rural Ontario, describes his passage into the larger world, where other families don't bake their own bread or slaughter their own pigs. Shyam Selvadurai tells of his flight from the intolerance of his native Sri Lanka, where, as a Tamil and a homosexual, he found himself unwelcome. Moses Znaimer describes his parents' hair-raising escape first from Hitler and then Stalin, a series of adventures through Eastern Europe and Central Asia and finally across the Atlantic.

Introduced by Michael Ignatieff, Passages explores what it means to be a foreigner, what it means to be a writer and what it means to be a Canadian -- and what it means to be all three at once.

Contributors: Michelle Berry • Ying Chen • Brian D. Johnson • Dany Laferriere • Alberto Manguel • Anna Porter • Nino Ricci • Shyam Selvadurai • M. G. Vassanji • Ken Wiwa • Moses Znaimer

From the Hardcover edition.

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  • From the book Rudyard Griffiths — Preface

    Immigration is the great Canadian constant. From the first European settlements along the banks of the St. Lawrence, successive waves of immigration have shaped the fabric of Canada. Our political institutions and the importance we put on the values of community and order flow largely from the arrival of the country's first political refugees, the United Empire Loyalists. Canadians' sensitivity to minority rights is an extension of the compromises and complexities of balancing — for the better part of 250 years — the competing interests of French and English, Catholic and Protestant immigrants. In the twentieth century, the movement to create our much-valued social programs such as medicare and social assistance grew out of a Prairie culture shaped in part by Canadians of Eastern European descent.

    The interconnections between immigration and the history of Canada are obvious. The fundamental challenge for Canada and Canadians is to see how immigration is shaping our society and values today, and in the future.

    We are a country on the verge of transformation, a watershed of not just demographics but of how we think and feel Canadian. In the coming decade, the majority of Canadian citizens will be first- and second-generation immigrants. This majority will consist not of a single mono-cultural group as did, say, the earlier waves of Anglo-European immigration, but of people who have come to Canada from the world over. They will leave jobs, loved ones, and entire cultural frameworks to journey to this county. In Canada, their languages, traditions and values will mix with each other. The only common thread binding these disparate cultures and individuals together will be the experience of being immigrants. At the most basic level, what it means to be Canadian will be an extension of what it means to be an immigrant.

    Passages to Canada provides a much-needed window on the contours of this new, radically immigrant identity that is reshaping Canada. While the authors who contributed to this volume come from diverse backgrounds, are at different points in their lives, and express a range of feelings about life in Canada, they share a common mindset. Each has made an epic mental journey. Their respective passages to Canada have made deep impressions on how they think about identity.

    As is to be expected, all of the contributors to Passages to Canada write powerfully about living with the memories of a lost homeland. Their present-day identities are haunted by the sights and smells of city streets a world away, the caress of a grandfather long dead or the desolation and boredom of a refugee camp. This collection also brings to the fore a sense of the difficulty of integrating into Canadian society. All the contributors feel, at some point in their passage to Canada, the alienation of being an immigrant. Inclement weather, taciturn customs agents or some jarring cultural oddity of Canadian society combine to press on them the identity of an outsider.

    Yet it is in this very feeling of otherness that each of the authors finds his or her connection to Canada. By virtue of being an immigrant, they discover in Canada creative freedom and individual autonomy. The broad cultural or deeply personal confines of the identity they left behind in their country of origin have the power of memories only. In Canada they have the ability to construct a sense of self that acknowledges the past but is also open to a present where multiple identities are at play. Being free from a single dominant cultural identity allows them, as writers, to explore and dissect the cultures of their homelands and their adopted...
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Welcome Home to Canada
Michael Ignatieff
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