Family History Stories

Who Are My People?

To be Canadian

In grade school I dreaded the bi-annual family history project. I was jealous of my friends who had great stories of emigrating to Canada, who talked about secret family recipes, who had fascinating objects and unique pieces of clothing. “I’m just Canadian,” I whined. “My people are all just Canadian.” For years I wanted to be everyone but me. I did not understand what it meant to be Canadian. To be Canadian felt like being nothing.

Now I am in my mid-thirties. I have learned that to be Canadian feels like being everything.

My heritage and identity are important. I feel blessed to be born Canadian.

Why this blog series? Why now?

Bonnie inspired me this morning. She loves to research family trees. Two summers ago she helped me navigate online French documents. I knew my relations included First Nation or Metis but I could not verify anything through the English documents. We had an exciting summer of research and conversation. When I returned to work in September life took over and my fat pink folder of family history sat neglected. A year passed.

We reconnected on Facebook last week. Bonnie sent me a note that she had been spending time researching my tree. People had sent her notes online. Bonnie had found some fabulous documents and interesting details. Creative energy danced through the phone connection like sunlight on a lake. We decided to collaborate on a project. We will write a book inspired by the family history research. Bonnie will lead the research. I will write.

Eight hours passed. Now, I write this blog post. After a full day of following the stories of my ancestors online I decided to begin our work by blogging about it. For months I have struggled with what I wanted to say next as a writer. I lingered between projects in a writer’s purgatory, haunted by indecision.

In May 2011 Sunshine in a Jar Press launched with its first title From the Cottage Porch: An Anthology. Inspired by summers at the cottage in Britt, Ontario, the book aimed to capture the spirit of cottage life in Ontario. The mission of my new independent publishing company is to capture the spirit of a place (real or imaginary) and its people through literature.

I know what I need to write about now. I will blog about the people and places that define me as a Canadian and about the process of learning about the stories of my ancestors.

Today I begin the project I most dreaded in grade school. Where do you come from? Who are your people? Write about your family history. I am thrilled to begin the journey!

Thank-you Bonnie!

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