I am reminded of an exchange overheard at Pearson Airport a few months ago in the Customs queue that winds for what seems like miles after the 14 hour journey from Dubai. A husband and wife, 6 feet behind me. “Jeez Marge, he says, where do all these people come from”! Marge responds: “Don’t worry Dear, they are probably just passing through. I look ahead of me and see Caucasian men in suits , behind me tourists like Marge and hubby, coming back from winter holidays. I seem to have gotten separated from my fellow travelers from South Asia and the Middle East who are a few bends ahead, quietly making their way towards the wicket by the dozens.
Therein probably lies the origin of the comment. These people can’t possibly be Canadians. They must be passing through, from where to where doesn’t matter. They are not staying Dear. As the queue winds and winds, I look closer at some of the passports, many of them already in hand, the navy colour screaming of their Canadianness. I overhear some of the children with their unmistakable Canadian accent. These children are shades of brown. Maybe they will be passing through Canada, ending up in another place where they will not mind being branded a foreigner.