For my American readers, Monday, February 18th was President’s Day and for (some of) my Canadian readers, it was Family Day. As my way of celebrating both days, I would like to discuss my upbringing and political foundations in the USA, my move to Canada and some of the cultural differences between the way politics are viewed in both countries.
I first became interested in politics when I was 12, and one of my cousins invited me to spend the weekend with him in downtown Seattle to attend a meet and greet with Senator Ted Kennedy. As I was the youngest in the room, Senator Kennedy took me aside and we chatted for a bit about my favorite subjects in school and if I was interested in going into politics in the future. We then got our picture taken, and he wrote me a note inviting me to come and visit him in Washington DC someday.
I returned home from that Seattle weekend excited about making a difference in my community, and I reached out to the local chapter of the Republican Party, where I was enthusiastically invited me to take part in the annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser. After that, I was hooked on grass roots activism and making politics a part of my life. In high school I was a member of the Young Republicans and was chosen to receive a scholarship to attend the 2007 Young America’s Foundation High School Leadership Conference in Washington DC. I also took time out from high school to be a page for Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen in the state capitol Olympia. After those experiences I was excited to start classes at a local community college, where I wanted to study languages and politics.
My plans changed, however, when I was invited by my mother’s family to come and live with them for a summer in the Yukon. I was excited to experience living in a different county, but I was unprepared for the differences between the two countries. While my passport was Canadian, I felt like an outsider. I had watched Mr. Rogers, not Mr. Dressup, and I had never danced the Log Driver’s Waltz. I found politics extremely frustrating as well, as I went from being one of the most knowledgeable in the room to one of the least. I remember being shocked the first time someone explained to me that the Queen was still technically the Head of State.
Although my original plans had me leaving Whitehorse at the end of summer, I fell in love and decided to stay in Canada, and eventually we moved to Toronto. I began school at Humber College and continued to learn about the Canadian way of doing things, but it took me a few years to feel comfortable talking about Canadian politics the way I would American. I am still learning but it is nice to be able to use my political contacts in both countries. I have really enjoyed learning about Canada and I find I feel more and more Canadian each day.
Until Next Time!