Open Jaw’s Canada Day series: Featuring Uprooted Guyanese Christine James
her earliest memories of Canada were living with her extended family of 14 in a
3 bedroom apartment, Vacation.com's Vice President has only positive things to
say about her adopted country.
York, near Toronto.
were you born?
you come to Canada?
When I was 11.
A couple of
reasons: My mother's sister was already living in Montreal, where we
first moved, and at that time Guyana was part of the commonwealth so it
was more logical and easier to do the paperwork.
were your 1
st impressions? The weather! We'd actually had winter coats
made for all of us in Guyana (10 of us came together, my parents and me and 7
of my 9 siblings), but seeing snow for the 1
st time was memorable.
From seeing it on TV and in the movies I had thought it would be the
consistency of ice cream, so that was a disappointing discovery!
you moved in with your aunt?
Yes – into a 3 bedroom apartment, so we were 14 altogether for a few
months until we got our own place.
st job here? We moved to Toronto in 1973 and when I was 15 graduated from high
school. But I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I worked for a
year in customer service for a mail order company and discovered how much I
liked working with people, which is why I enrolled for a 3 year travel and
tourism course at Centennial College.
you appreciate most about being Canadian?
I feel very honoured and privileged, because
beyond having a great health care and social infrastructure and more or less
economic stability, Canada is a very welcoming country.
could live anywhere in Canada, where would it be?
I love Montreal and, if my French were better,
I'd likely live there – I love the European flair. But I do appreciate Toronto,
especially for its diversity.
you think would make Canada an even better place?
Tough question. I just worked out that I've
visited over 80 countries. While I love the experiences and people, I can't
think of a better place to live given our social and economic factors. The only
thing we could improve would be the weather!
you traditionally spend Canada day?
My husband is from Ottawa and we go there to
Parliament Hill – the best place to be on Canada Day! And, of course, we wear
our Canada T-shirts.
you think you'd be doing if you had remained in Guyana?
A tough question because I left so
long ago, but definitely some sort of business with a lot of customer