Canada is absolutely wonderful. With open and accepting people, low crime rates, and many opportunities, it’s a dream country for immigrants far and near who wish for a better future. Living everyday life here, it can be easy to forget and take for granted the many privileges Canada offers immigrants such as myself. You get used to the safety, kindness, and opportunities available, almost like it’s natural for life to be so good. In my most recent trip to Latvia to visit relatives, I had the chance to revisit my family’s past and speak to many people dreaming of Canada. It reminded me of just how privileged and grateful I am to be living in Canada—to be a Canadian.
One of the people I spoke to in Latvia was a woman named Olga. Nearly 30 years old, Olga was studying English in the hopes of someday being able to immigrate to Canada with her husband, for the sake of her newborn daughter. She was dreaming of better opportunities, and of community. As an ethnically Polish woman living all her life in Latvia, she felt singled out among the many ethnic Latvians and Russians. With the unique political struggles in Latvia, she saw herself losing friends due to differences in ethnicity, and her desire to remain neutral when asked to choose who she supported more politically—Latvians or Russians. She felt that she didn’t even belong in Poland, due to her Latvian accent, and told me, “I think I will finally belong in Canada. There, no one belongs anywhere, so they belong together.”
A friend of mine, Jaesung Kim from South Korea, mentioned that he appreciates Canada for much the same reason. “People here are mostly xenophilic and they appreciate diversity,” he wrote. While racism and discrimination exist everywhere, I think it’s an undeniable fact that Canada is one of the most open and tolerant countries in the world. Additionally, he finds Canada to be much fairer when it comes to employer-employee relationships: “I served in the military without proper pay… and even outside of the military, overtime without pay is common,” he wrote. “Canada is much fairer. I thank Canada for that.”
Many people I know chose to come to Canada because of its fairness and dedication to justice. Another friend of mine and fellow Her Campus writer, Mahnoor Javed, mentioned that Pakistan had several issues regarding justice in politics. There was a suspicious gap between the wealth of Pakistan’s former prime minister and the rest of the “poverty-stricken” country. She told me, “[In Canada], the law makes people accountable for their actions,” and so she is grateful to live in a “law-abiding country.” Another friend and fellow Her Campus writer, Fatima Nadeem, writes, “My biggest concern with Pakistan stems from the injustices that a lot of Pakistanis face [which] wouldn’t likely occur in Canada without some sort of investigation taking place.”
“Additionally, the healthcare facilities accessible to us Canadians are very different compared to the facilities offered in Pakistan,” Fatima writes. In many countries, healthcare can be outdated and/or difficult to access. The universal healthcare offered in Canada ensures a better quality of health and life for all Canadians.
Besides the openness, safety, fairness, and healthcare of Canada, there is also education. In many countries, education is a privilege not many people have access to, whereas it’s much more accessible here. “My parents  didn’t have a lot of money, and so they went to underfunded schools,” Mahnoor writes, “which [made] my dad teach himself English when he was 16-17. They came here to give us kids a better opportunity to have an education that would allow us to do what we want.” Similarly, another friend of mine, Sumer Gillan, writes, “I’m grateful for the fact that Canada has allowed me, as a first generation born to immigrant parents, access to better education and rights than I would have had.”
My friends and I have come from all sorts of places and positions in life. Some have come to escape a difficult life in perpetual poverty, some have come as refugees from war-torn countries, and some have come from relatively fortunate situations but still sought a better life for their children. My final thoughts are best summarized by my friend Leili Mollahassani: “In Canada, you can be whoever you want to be.” Like a blank canvas, we have been given the foundation and a chance to be who we want to be, without the limitations our parents had to struggle with. For all of this and more—thank you, Canada.