In the days leading to Donald Trump’s electoral victory, moving to Canada became a hot topic for anxious Americans. I’m from the rainy Lower Mainland, and questions have been pouring in for me since election night: How cold is it up there? Can I come live with you in Vancouver? Can I sleep in your driveway, or even your trash can? I’ve received two temporary marriage proposals and three pleas from friends that I adopt them.
Well, I’m all for non-traditional family structures, and my first reaction was that this is hilarious! It’s all in good fun. Humor is an excellent coping mechanism in the face of grief and trauma. And then Canada’s immigration website crashed, in what I imagined to be a frantic, panicked response to Americans’ now-uncertain future. It hit me: some of you actually want to escape north.
I don’t care if you’re joking. I don’t care if you’re not. Please, and I say this with all my Canadian politesse, please stop talking about moving to Canada. Perhaps it would not be so difficult for certain demographics to pack up their bags and leave. You are truly lucky if immigrating to my country is a real possibility for you. However, many Americans cannot afford to quit their jobs and find new ones in time to provide for their families. These are often minority, low-income, working class Americans who will likely hurt the most from the results on Nov. 8. It is simply disrespectful for Americans to speak whimsically about an escape route that so many of their countrymen can barely dream of.
I hasten to add that Canada should not been seen as your easy way out. Considering the extent to which your campaigns have revolved around closing borders, are Americans not ashamed to expect us to open ours? I remember my 10th grade social studies class, staring solemnly ahead as my teacher wrote “51st state” on the blackboard in red chalk. In Canada, the term evokes a certain fear that under the right political conditions, Canada will become little more than an extension of the United States. It’s scary how much America takes for granted that we’ll welcome its exiles with open arms. Perhaps we will, perhaps we won’t. Only the expectation disturbs me. Canada is not your dumping ground and the world does not belong to you.
Of course I understand your disappointment, your anger, your fear. I feel those too, because Canada is America’s friend, globalization is as important as human empathy and we hold our country to similar democratic ideals. I’ve never been prouder to be a Canadian citizen, but I’ve also never been prouder to be a student at an American university. Americans want to flee for good, legitimate reasons. But this is the prime time to stay and show your love for America. You have to stay and fix things, or at least try to fix things. America’s deeply concerning social issues will not leave with you. In fact, America will only become more divided when half the country refuses to connect across these divides and instead cracks jokes about hopping across the border. And would you really want to leave America full of everyone who made you want to leave in the first place? Moving to Canada would be a dangerous loss of faith.
Progress is hard, especially in polarized times. That’s why Canadians will continue to fight to address our own shortcomings. I think of Canada’s deplorable treatment of First Nations people. I think of Downtown Eastside. And I am hopeful.
Please do your research if you truly want to move to Canada — what paperwork you have to fill out, how many months you have to wait. Regardless of what happens to my F1 visa come January, I’d love to show you around my city and take you to the mountains and forests of British Columbia. I’d love to have you experience Canadian multiculturalism, with none of America’s divisive rhetoric of assimilation and what it means to be all-American. My guest room is open, in the True North strong and free.
Vicky Liu is a sophomore in Pierson College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .