If it weren't for this blog, I probably wouldn’t have adopted this title even now. In my online search for similar ramblings by Canadians living abroad, I discovered the term expat (expatriate). The dictionary definition of expat is "someone living in a country that is not their own country". But this definition leads to even more questions.
What do we mean by "their own country"? Is this defined simply by citizenship? I have dual citizenship: Canadian and Israeli. Am I now a Canadian expat when living in
Israel, but an Israeli expat when living in ? Or maybe it is defined by which citizenship came first. In my case it was Canadian, but my children were born both Israeli and Canadian –as they were born in Canada to a Canadian father. Can they then be called Canadian "expats", even though they have never lived in Israel ? And what if we had moved half a year after their birth in Canada Israel to live permanently in - which country would they then call their own? Canada
So, who deserves the term "expat"? And when can you begin to call yourself an expat, and when should you stop? Perhaps this all comes down to "nationality". Can nationality really be imported or exported? Take me, for example. Why should I still be considered Canadian after living abroad for over 35 years? It appears that this is exactly the type of question that Canadian legislators have recently begun to ponder. In 2009, they passed new legislation by which individuals can now become Canadian citizens by descent only if one of their parents was either a native-born citizen of
Canada or a foreign-born but naturalized citizen of . This new law limits citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada , whereas before there was no such limit. And maybe they will soon go further than this. By law, you can become a naturalized Canadian citizen after living a certain number of years in Canada . Why then shouldn't there be a law where you become a denaturalized Canadian citizen after living a certain number of years abroad? I mean – fair is fair. Canada
Personally, I am quite happy that my children are automatically recognized as Canadian citizens, because of me. I see this as one of my better gifts to them, even though they may never end up living in
, and their experience of Canadian culture may only be limited to their father's nostalgic ramblings and their short visits to the mother country. One might then ask – "Do they have a Canadian identity?" Canada
Does identity come with citizenship? And do we lose identity when we lose citizenship?
In my expatriate searches, one of the most refreshing sites that I have come across, so far, is "I was an expat wife" - http://iwasanexpatwife.com/ . Upon moving back with her family to
, Maria defines herself as a Canadian repatriate. This opens up a whole new Pandora's box of possibilities. Canada
I don't know what I am. Call me what you will. In recent deliberations over a few pints of Guinness with fellow expats (not only Canadian expats), we came to the conclusion that the longer you are away, the lesser chance you have of ever finding your way back. Somewhere along the line, there is a cutoff point. The problem is: none of us ever read the fine print.