Slowly Becoming Canadian The Podcast – Episode 03 – Living in remote Canada

Slowly Becoming Canadian - Episode 03 - Living in remote Canada

Helen (who used to live ELEVEN HOURS North of Edmonton, AB) joins me to talk about what it is like to live in an isolated Canadian community: do groceries for 9 months, be pregnant when the closest hospital is more than an hour drive away, get licked by a bear and much more.
We also find out how many car accidents per year in Canada involve moose. It’s probably more than you think.

You can stream this episode directly on Soundcloud or on iTunes.

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, the episodes will automatically be added to your library!

Where many people started to slowly become Canadian

If you visit/live in Halifax, NS, you have to visit Pier 21. There is so much to see and so much to learn.

If you immigrated to Canada, you’ll see how people like you helped shape this country and how it helped them in return.

If you were born here, you’ll see how Canada – and you – has welcomed and continues to welcome and help so many people from everywhere.

Multiculturalism can sometimes be a very abstract idea. When you listen to these stories and see what happened in that place, it becomes very concrete. It is about people from Everywhere making a new Here.

 The Canadian Immigration Room

It is filled with great pictures, stories and very interesting facts

The Immigration Office

Look at that sassy lady with the sunglasses just about to enter Canada

The Immigration Office

The officer behind that desk was the person who decided to let you in or not.

And if you’re very nice, you’ll get to take a picture with Fenton, the museum’s mascot. Come on, look at him, you know you want to!

Slowly Becoming Canadian The Podcast – Episode 2

Urban planning in Canada

Urban planner @tealuke and I talk about cities in Canada:
Why there isn’t more of them, how there design influences people, the differences with French cities…

We also play “Real place in Canada or something I just made up”. Find out if Nottawa, ON and Climax, SK are real Canadian towns!


Slowly Becoming Canadian The Podcast – Episode 1


North American sports are all very confusing to me and I’m always lost when people talk about them. I sat down with sports connoisseur and friend, Damian Daniels, so he could help me a little.

Whether you love sports or you don’t care about it, listen to this episode. You’ll learn a thing or two, laugh, and find out if me guest would pass the Canadian citizenship test.


Game on! (That’s what you say, right?)


Do you think I should get to vote?


Yesterday, there was a provincial by-election in my riding and voter turnout was around 38%. I was one of the people who didn’t vote, but that didn’t influence voter turnout because, as a permanent resident, I am not allowed to vote. Don’t worry, this is not me complaining about  the right to vote. You see, I have been thinking about this issue for quite some time now – I’ve been a permanent resident for three years – and I still can’t decide if I should be allowed to vote in municipal and provincial elections.

As you probably noticed, I didn’t even raise the issue about federal elections. I come from a family of immigrants: my dad emmigrated from Tunisia to France, my grand-father emmigrated from France to the U.S., my great-grandparents emmigrated from Poland to France.  My dad lived in France for a long time before he got his French citizenship. It was something important to him and I remember him telling me that now he was  “fully French” and could call France his country. That probably explains, at least partially, why I think non-citizens shouldn’t vote in national elections. These elections are a way for the people to decide the future of their country, and a country isn’t fully yours when you are still not fully adopted by that country.

However, for me, municipal and provincial elections are different. As a resident of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia every decision made by the provincial government and by the city council directly affect my everyday life (of course, it’s also the case with the decisions made by the federal government, but I already covered that.) Maybe it is the same for Canadians who think the decisions made in Ottawa are disconnected from them and see local politics as more important. And, I am not sure of this, but  most Canadians I talk to (which of course doesn’t even come close to 35 millions) have a strong attachment to the province in which they live. I have developed a strong attachment to Nova Scotia, too. Probably because it is were I first settled when I arrived in Canada. I can’t speak for all immigrants, but I think when you come to a new country, you develop a special bond with the first place you decide will be your new home. Sometimes, at least when politics is a little bit interesting for you, it can be frustrating not to be allowed to participate in the important decisions that will impact your home. Especially, when you work in that province, contribute to its life and economy, and pay taxes. Paying taxes in Nova Scotia shouldn’t necessarily give me the right to vote, it already gives me the right as a permanent resident to have access to great services like healthcare. And I am not trying to use taxes in a “my taxes pay your salary” way. I see me paying taxes as a normal way to contribute to the sustainability of this province and to give other people access to the same services. But shouldn’t contributing give me the right to elect the people who will decide how to use my contribution? I still don’t know.

In the six years I have spent here, I have seen the question be raised a few times especially at the municipal level here in Halifax. One of the arguments that often comes up is that allowing permanent residents to vote will increase voter turnout. First of all, this is not mathematical evidence. Increasing the number of potential voters still means you need to increase the number of people who actually vote. You might even see a decrease if permanent residents don’t show up. There is this assumption that they want to vote and they will if they are given the right to. I know I would, but I don’t know if others would. Do you? Observations and studies might have been done in other countries but they took place in different contexts. Maybe surveys have been done here, but I am not aware of them. We also know that surveys don’t always reflect the reality. Anyway, I don’t think that it matters, because for me this is a bad argument. If you want to give permanent residents the right to vote it should be for good reasons and increasing voter turnout isn’t one. I believe that for that kind of issue only ethical and philosophical reasons matter. Not trying to sound smart here, I just mean it is a decision that should be made in regards to the values that it is associated with and not in regard to pragmatic reasons. Maybe a referendum can be a tool for that kind of societal issue. I guess that is why I still don’t know whether I should have the right to vote or not, it is because I think it isn’t up to me to decide but up to Canadians. The question remains: Should permanent residents be allowed to vote in local elections?

35.16 million Canadians + me

Today I learned that I want to be Canadian. To be an actual Canadian citizen.

I was waiting for my bus when an international student asked me to explain the bus system. He didn’t know how much a ticket cost, nor where to buy a student bus pass. I started to explain how to walk to a store where he could get one, but I could see he was a little confused, so I decided to walk there with him. On the way, he told me he had just arrived the night before from China and that he was going to be taking English lessons this summer before studying engineering in the fall. He sounded tired, excited and a little overwhelmed. I remembered when I first arrived in the different countries I’ve lived in and how it was a lot to take in at first. When we got to the store I told him how to get the pass and showed him where he could get a sandwich. On an impulse, I also gave him my card, just in case he needed help with something else. He probably will never call me and will get all the help he needs from his university and fellow students, but I thought that at least for a few hours it might be reassuring for him to know there was someone he could contact. I wished him good luck and we parted ways.

Twenty minutes later, I got on a bus and he was there. He smiled and showed me his brand new bus pass. We looked at his map and figured out his next stop. He thanked me and got off the bus. I was probably imagining it but he looked like he was already feeling better. I was feeling good too and I thought, “Now he’ll know it’s true that Canadians are nice and welcoming” But then I thought, “Wait, I’m not from here, I’m not Canadian.”

But maybe now I feel like “here” is home, like I am a part of here, like I want to be Canadian.

Thank you Andy for helping me realize it’s time to look into getting Canadian citizenship.


Peer 21

Peer 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia


What is this thing you call summer?

Oh my God, what is this?! What is happening? There is a big bright light in the sky and I am warm. I must be dying. I’m sorry, what? What did you say it was? Spring? Oh ok, it’s just that it was supposed to start 8 weeks ago so I thought it was just not going to happen this year. That’s great though, it means summer is coming! It also means I – and you too, if like me you’ve been hibernating for months – need to get ready.


Summer check list:

1 – Get some DEET. No, get a lot of it! A couple times every summer I get very close to needing a blood transfusion to survive the constant attacks from mosquitoes/black flies/horse flies/evil flying creatures from Hell. So I have to choose between spraying we-are-not-sure-how-toxic-this-product-is insect repellant all over my body and risking  not surviving the summer. Or to simply look like that:



2 – Get some sunscreen: There is an average of 48 hours of sun per month of summer in Nova Scotia, which is not a lot. However, it’s enough for you to burn or get a weird farmer’s or fisherman’s tan so apply generously. And put a hat on, a Moosehead one or even a Habs, a Bruins or a Leafs one. I’m kidding, don’t wear a Leafs hat. (I don’t really have anything against the Leafs, I’m just slowly becoming Canadian, so I’m dissing them like everyone else.)


3 – Get ready to drink: Between BBQs, patios, weddings, playoffs, and regular evenings, you will see your alcohol intake go up a lot. That’s OK, you’re helping the economy. Plus now, you get Air Miles at the NSLC, so really, you’re just making smart economic decisions. Just don’t forget to have at least one Keith’s at some point. It’s the law in Nova Scotia.


4 – Get ready for the election: In October, the country will vote for its leader. In the meantime, you will be exposed to a lot of arguments, lawn signs, heated conversations and cheap jokes about haircuts. To help you make your choice you can always count on the televised debates and your colleague or relative that has an opinion on everything and knows for sure who you should vote for. According to Elections Canada, 12.2% of Canadians are not at all interested in politics. If that’s your case and you get caught in a conversation about the elections, just say “First, we really should do something about the Senate!”. 86% of Canadians want to either abolish or reform it, so chances are people will agree with you, and hopefully,  the conversation topic will change.


Mostly, get ready for some fun! But before fully enjoying the summer, make sure  you are done shovelling all the snow that got dumped on Nova Scotia this winter.


Photo taken May 18th, 2015


 Check if you speak Nova Scotian