Canadian Expatriates: The Expat Blog: April 2006

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An Invitation from Foreign Affairs Canada [-]

Canadian Expatriates, its contributors, and readers have been invited by Foreign Affairs Canada to participate in a series of eDiscussions. The current topic is “Showcasing Canadian Culture and Know-How Abroad”.

We are asked to consider the following questions:

  • What role does Canadian culture and know-how play in our foreign policy?

  • How might the government best promote Canadian talent and expertise in the world?

    The eDiscussion runs from April 4 to May 6, 2005. At its conclusion, a summary of the discussion will be sent to senior policy planners.

    The Expat admin team encourages its readers to join in the eDiscussion at the Canadian International Policy website.

    Posted by Admin

  • Call for Contributors [-]

    The administration team is currently searching for Canadian expatriates who would be interested in contributing to the Expat Blog. The subject matter is wide open, but must remain family friendly.

    If you are interested in joining our blogging team, please send an email our way!

    Thank you!

    Posted by Admin

    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes
    by Expat

    Tomorrow has been declared to be "A Day Without Immigrants" here in the United States. According to a Yahoo News article,
    Monday has been set aside for immigrants to boycott work, school and shopping to show how much they matter to their communities. But with some growing tired of street protests, and others afraid they'll be deported or fired for walking out, people are planning to support the effort in myriad ways.

    Some will work but buy nothing on Monday. Others will protest at lunch breaks or at rallies after work. There will be church services, candlelight vigils, picnics and human chains.

    The range of activities shows both how powerful the immigrants' rights movement has become in a matter of weeks, and that organizers don't yet have a clear focus on its next step.

    What the quoted section of the article fails to mention, is that these protests are primarily in support of undocumented immigrants and in opposition to bill H.R. 4437.

    Being an immigrant in the United States has not been an easy experience. When I moved here, I expected to receive the occasional maple syrup and hoser jokes. What I did not expect, was the hostility that I have received.

    Shortly after my arrival to this country, I realized that I had a great deal of time to fill while waiting for my immigration paperwork to be completed, so I began to do volunteer work. Oddly enough, it was through volunteering my time for the community that I encountered some hurtful attitudes towards immigration. The organization for which I was volunteering was the same type of organization that I had worked for while in Canada. By all means, I was, in fact, working for free at a professional job that I had been paid to do on the other side of the border. I was, therefore, taken aback at some of the attitudes that I encountered and some of the things that were said to me. In fact, it was while volunteering that I was first referred to as "that immigrant girl" or "poor immigrant girl". It got even worse when I was asked if I wanted a job sewing on buttons for 6¢ a button. Being overly naive at the time, I did not quite catch the insinuation and just thought the question was odd. Now knowing what some of the commonly held ideas towards immigrants and immigration are in this country, I look back on that remark and shudder that someone would actually have said that.

    Tomorrow's planned events have me on edge. Everyone in this nation has an opinion on immigration, despite the fact that very few have actually dealt with the system. Considering the amount of bungling that the USCIS did with my case, I would be the first in line calling for immigration reform. However, while I oppose some measures of H.R.4437, I don’t support the rallies that have been going on in this country. I fear that such protests are actually counter-productive and poison the average American’s view on immigration and immigrants even further - a simple look at the online comments section of our local newspaper provides verification of that.

    After much frustration, I finally received my Social Security Number in the mail and immediately put it to good use in getting my Illinois driver's license and applying for jobs. While most of the job postings that I have applied for make note that, "[Company name] makes all hiring decisions without regard to an applicant’s gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, marital status, veteran status, disability or any other category protected by local, state, or federal law", I have a difficult time believing that to be true based on some of the remarks that I have received since moving here. As such, I can not help but think that having all of my educational and professional experience come from out of country might prove to be a liability in my job search - even more so at this time of protest with immigration being front and center. I suppose that only time will tell what effect these protests will have for those of us who are here legally and who are eager to rebuild our lives in this country.

    Expat Talkback:
    - What are the Stateside expats views on these immigration rallies?
    - What have been your experiences as a new immigrant?

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Et Tu, Caesar?
    by Expat

    "Can I interest you in a Heineken or a cocktail?" the server asked.

    We were celebrating our wedding anniversary so we had cause to celebrate.

    "Sure," replied the Yank. "Two Caesars please!"

    The waitress looked confused.

    "It is my first day on the job," she explained. "I will be right back with that."

    True to her word, she was back a short time later.

    "Sorry! I forgot to check your ID."

    I breathed a sigh of relief. I am well passed the age where getting carded is an inconvenience. In fact, I now view the process as more of a compliment than a hassle. I suppose, that, in and of itself, is a better indicator of my age than anything.

    Before she went back to grab the drinks, our waitress passed on a question from the bartender. "Caesars are made with tequila right?"

    My husband and I looked at each other in horror and decided that it was best to change our orders at that point. He got hooked on Caesars at home and we had forgotten that it was not a terribly common drink here in the States. It was, therefore, with a bit of a laugh that I later read the following sentence in the Wikipedia: "[The Caesar] is not well known in the U.S., and many Canadians living abroad prize a bartender who can mix a good Caesar." Apparently, we are not the only ones to have confused an American bartender.

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Cross-National Relationships
    by Expat

    One of the difficult elements in maintaining a cross-national relationship is that one partner always plays the role of the immigrant and is plagued by homesickness.

    I recently received an email inquiring into the feasibility of a unique solution to this problem - living five years in one country and then five years in the other. Not having any experience with this myself, I was hoping that someone here could help the author of the email and give her some of the pros and cons of that particular situation.

    When I initially moved to the United States, I thought that it was just going to be for a short period of time and then my husband and I would return to Canada. In the few years that I have lived here, however, we have put down roots and now the very prospect of having to file immigration paperwork on my husband's behalf, sell our house, find jobs in Canada, and start our lives over seems overwhelming. That is not to say that we will not do it, just that it is more complicated than what we had first assumed. Then, when I am completely honest with myself, I wonder if "who I have become" will fit into the "Canada that I remember" and a sense of dread overcomes me as I wonder if I will ever truly feel at home anywhere anymore. In all honesty, it may be time for me to shift my thinking and identify myself as a citizen of the world, rather than as a Canadian in the United States.

    Out of curiousity, how do other cross-cultural couples deal with this situation and do other expats go through a phase of feeling like they no longer belong anywhere?

    Thanks in advance and enjoy what is left of the weekend!

    Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Fellow Expats
    by Expat

    It may be time to reconsider our exodus from the Motherland:

    Canada Rates in Top Five in Sexual Satisfaction Survey.

    Being snowed in for five months of the year obviously accounts for something.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Canadian Ingenuity
    by Expat

    A team of American researchers have determined that the risk involved in mowing the lawn is higher than many would think.

    After studying nearly 10 years of statistics from databases that register the reasons for visiting emergency rooms and hospital administrations, researchers Dr. David Bishai and Vanessa Costilla estimated that nearly 80,000 Americans a year are treated for lawn-mowing-related injuries.

    Canada's shorter summer season and smaller population produces fewer injuries per year, yet individuals are still being unnecessarily injured while performing the summertime chore.
    According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 95 people were admitted to Canadian hospitals in 2003-2004 for treatment of lawn-mower injuries, mainly amputations or severe bleeding.

    Over the same time, 810 people were treated in Ontario emergency rooms for injuries caused by lawn mowers, the organization said.

    “When you consider our summer lawn season is about four months in length, that is about seven Ontarians a day visiting Emergency during that time due to a lawn mower incident,” said Margaret Keresteci, CIHI’s manager of clinical registries.

    Many of these types of injuries are entirely preventable if people used common sense and caution, Bishai and others noted.

    “I would not say that lawn-mower injuries are the biggest issue in injury in Canada. They’re not. But if they’re preventable, why not prevent them?” asked Alison Macpherson, an injury researcher and professor in York University’s school of kinesiology and health science.
    It would appear that Canucks are not immune to the problem, but, thanks to Canadian ingenuity, they do have a creative solution for those injuries when they happen - a drinking game, of sorts!

    More on this Topic:
    Interactive Poll: Whipper Snipper or Weed Wacker?
    Lawnmower Safety: Spare those little piggies.
    More Weird Drinks: And other edible oddities from around the world.
    Drinking Games: Be the life of the party with your next injury!

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Postcard from Tornado Alley
    by Expat

    I am a bit late with this, but Happy Easter! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday.

    The weather kept the Easter Bunny at bay in our neighbourhood and forced us to spend the majority of the weekend in the safety of the basement. This year's tornado season has been crazy here in the midwest. In fact, the NWS is reporting that yesterday alone there were 18 twister reports in our region of the state. That was after a tornado ripped through a neighbouring town early Friday morning and downed 300 power poles. Needless to say, it has been anything but a relaxing holiday weekend!

    The weather channel promises for a quieter day today. My fingers are crossed!

    Tip o' the Day:
    Cadbury chocolate can be difficult to find in the States at times other than Easter. Today is the day to stock up while it is on sale!

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Eagle Eye
    by Expat

    CBC News recently featured an article about the high tech life and times of a pair of bald eagles that are currently nesting on British Columbia's Hornby Island. With the government's permission, property owner David Carrick set up webcams to get a better look at the eagles nesting in their natural environment.

    Carrick's website, which features the webcam, can be found here, Eagle Eye Cam.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    It's Coming!
    by Expat

    Expatriate Canadians are not the only one's lamenting the distance to the nearest Tim Hortons!

    Fortunately for Canada's Armed Forces, Timbits and Double Doubles will soon be within grasp at Tim Hortons: Kandahar! To sweeten the deal for the doughnut artists who will be working at the new location, the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency is willing to pay top dollar in exchange for services.
    While Canadian fast food jobs often pay the minimum wage of about C$8 an hour, the successful Kandahar candidates will earn double that, plus a tax-free allowance of C$1,800 a month. Food and accommodation are free.

    The military is looking for applicants who have already worked at a Tim Hortons -- Canada's largest coffee shop chain -- although Smiley said few would have military experience.

    The military support agency is setting up the Tim Hortons in response to demand from Canada's 2,200 troops in Afghanistan, who are homesick for their Tims coffee and doughnut fix.

    About 5,000 soldiers from other countries are also based in Kandahar and the agency expects about 2,500 people to visit Tim Hortons, Kandahar, each day.
    Slowly but surely, Tim Hortons will one day achieve global domination with its addictive coffee! More on the story can be found here, Tim Hortons Hiring for Afghanistan.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Eighty Things
    by Expat

    In honour of Queen Elizabeth's 80th birthday, Buckingham Palace has issued "80 Quirky Facts About the Queen".

    A few items of note include the following:
    17) During her reign, the Queen has received many unusual gifts including live animals. The more unusual animals have been placed in the care of the London zoo, among them jaguars and sloths from Brazil, and two black beavers from Canada. The Queen has also received gifts of pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees and 7kg of prawns.

    27) The Queen has given out about 78,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI. In addition, the Queen gives all her staff a gift at Christmas time.

    34) With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, the Queen became the first reigning sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.

    53) The Queen sent her first email in 1976 from an Army base.

    59) The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the "dorgi" when one of the Queen's corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret. The Queen currently has four dorgis, Cider, Berry, Candy and Vulcan.
    That final dog's name leads one to wonder that if there were an 81st item on the list, would it be that Her Majesty is an avid Trekkie?

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Uncle Ray's Review
    by Expat

    The Dude did a bit of traveling over the past week and discovered a gas station in a neighbouring state that sold ketchup chips. Like the good boy that he is, he picked up a few bags and won a few brownie points with the Canuck in the process.

    This time, the maker of the chips was "Uncle Ray's" out of Detroit, Michigan. There was a big orange sticker on the front of the bag that read, "59¢" and "See Story on Back!". The story detailed "The Life and Times of Uncle Ray". Unfortunately, all four bags of chips featured the same story - "Chapter Ten: A Hard Day's Work for a Good Day's Pay", which outlined Uncle Ray's time working at the Great Lakes Grey Iron Foundry and his stint in the US Navy. I was disappointed that I had jumped into the story right at chapter ten and was in the dark about the previous nine chapters of Uncle Ray's chip bag biography. Thankfully, I discovered chapters 1, 4, 3, and 10 (in that order) on the official Uncle Ray's website, which helped to fill in some of the gaps in the story.

    Prior to opening the bag, I meditated in an effort to cleanse my mind's palette of the delights of Old Dutch ketchup chips. Over the course of living abroad, I have learned that American chips, try as they might, just can not compete with Old Dutch. Now prepared for this gastronomic journey, I opened the bag.

    A pop of the bag and the air rushed out. I inhaled expecting to smell the delicious scent of artificial ketchup seasoning. There was nothing. I peered into the bag and gasped! The chips were naked! The predominant colour in the bag was white and the predominant flavour was potato. Were these really ketchup chips? Finishing the last chips in the bag and reaching the bottom, I discovered the answer - a deep layer of red powder covered the bottom of the bag and stained my fingers with its ketchupy delight.

    Next time, I will remember to shake the bag beforehand and see if that makes a difference in the sticking ability of the seasoning to the chips. If so, perhaps Uncle Ray should add directions on how to properly prepare the chips for consumption to the preface of his chip bag biography. At any rate, 59¢ for a naked chip peep show and a story is a steal of a deal! Thanks Uncle Ray!

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Maple Thanks
    by Expat

    Canadians have found a creative solution to combating both Prime Minister Harper's increasing waistline and Quebec's maple syrup crisis.

    Since the end of the Winter Olympics, grateful Canadians have been donating their maple syrup to over 300 participating Bell Canada stores in an event known as "Project Maple Syrup". The end result was a very sticky 5.4 ton gift of appreciation to Norway's Bjoernar Haakensmoen.
    At the Turin Olympics, the Norwegian cross-country ski coach handed Sara Renner a spare ski pole after the Canadian broke one during the Nordic ski sprint relay final. Renner went on to win a silver medal while the Norwegians finished fourth.

    "It was natural for me to do it, and I think anyone should have done it," Haakensmoen told the Associated Press. "I didn't think about it. It was just a reflex ... but the response has been unbelievable."

    In order to make it possible for Haakensmoen to accept the maple syrup, which is a rare item in Norway, both the Canadian and Norwegian governments waived any duty fees that would have been applicable.

    The entire story can be found here, Canadians Reward Olympic Good Deed.

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Moment of Zen
    by Expat


    The majority of the keys on my laptop keyboard have conveniently stopped working,which has left me relying upon the on-screen keyboard to respond to emails and to post. So far, this technique has not met with a great deal of success and I would not recommend it to the masses. :P

    My apologies to those who have emailed me inquiring about having their urls added to the blogroll. I will make the additions as soon as it is humanly possible.

    A very frustrated Expat.

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