My parents emigrated from the Netherlands in the early 1950’s. I was born, here in Canada, a couple of years later.
I remember speaking Dutch as a small child and being told by one of my aunts to speak English instead. I can still hear her voice saying, “speak English, we came to Canada to be Canadians.” I remember this clearly and it made me proud to be in Canada, proud to be a Canadian.
Reflecting back I wish I had held on, a little tighter, to being a Dutch Canadian. Not just that having a second language would be so beneficial in today’s global society, but also to better understand WHY so many Dutch people and other Europeans came to Canada for a better life.
I know the reasons why. I know what happened in Europe, and particularly the Netherlands, in the decades prior to my family’s move to Canada.
What I am just beginning to understand, now, is the effect these long ago years continue to have on my family.