Written for Daily Hive by Kim Werker, an American Canadian author living in Vancouver.
I moved to Vancouver from the US in 2002, and became a Canadian citizen this past July. I’ve described the timing of my becoming a dual citizen as being… intense.
Over the last year, as Donald Trump rose to power south of the border and hatefulness became more commonplace in political and social discourse, I’ve found myself to be, at times, almost maddeningly obsessed with figuring out my national identity.
I’m resigned, now, to relax into the confusion. But here are some things I think about.
As both a Canadian and an American, I’m concerned on a variety of levels as I look ahead to a Trump presidency. I feel a very deep concern about the health of American democracy, in general.
It feels like the shared values that the US is built on have been pushed aside in the interest of arguing over differing values, and the result is the election of a man who has shown no indication that he reveres the grand social institution of American democracy at all.
The US has certainly survived some terrible presidents in its history, but have any of those presidents not actually respected the office they held? I don’t think so.
The emboldened displays of bigotry that have become more prominent since the election (not only in the US, but here at home, too) are truly frightening.
I have, here in Vancouver in the last month, felt wholly shaken to witness antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia and sexism in my neighbourhood.
I’m under no illusion that the rise of Trump is unique to the US. Here in Canada, we have important work to do to ensure our country doesn’t slide into divisiveness and prejudice, too.
On an even larger scale, I feel uneasy about the balance of world power I’ve taken for granted my whole life. Trump is not a unique leader. As more powerful countries are led by selfishly motivated protectionists who foment fear amongst their people, well. I shudder to think of the devastation that could result.
As a person who works in a creative field, I have many colleagues in the US who are panicking because they’ll lose their health insurance when the majority-Republican government repeals the Affordable Care Act. I’ve never taken for granted the role health care in Canada plays in my ability to be self-employed, and I wish my colleagues south of the border could rely on such stability.
Very personally, I’m concerned for my family in the US. I’m concerned for their safety as Jews. I’m concerned for their continuing ability to afford health insurance. As a parent, I’m concerned about the future of public education (I’m concerned about the threatened state of public education here in BC, too).
I could go on about this forever, it seems. My general feeling, I suppose, is one of persistent unease. I no longer trust that the US is a stable force in the world.
My healthy imagination is all too good at coming up with dire consequences that could result from that instability. It’s hard to attend to my daily life sometimes, because I fear it could change at any moment. I’m a proud Canadian, but I’m also an American. I picked a very strange and difficult time to be an expat, that’s for sure.
In the end, I always come to the same conclusion: No matter what I feel about the present or imagine about the future, it’s up to me to show up, to stand up, to speak up. It’s up to each and every one of us.
Werker is among thousands of people planning to take part in the Women’s March in Vancouver this Saturday, in solidarity with the Women’ March in Washington. For more details, check our in depth article here: Women’s March in Vancouver.