Live from the 3.5 2020, #4 — Canada’s Dance with Diversity (A Toronto Does Not a Canada MAKE.)

“Why’s your skin so dark?”

— an eight-year-old boy from small town Ontario at the Canadian National Comic Book Exposition, 2003.

When a little White boy asked me why my skin was so dark at my comic con table, I wasn’t ready for it at all. As a Mississauga kid, I knew diversity. I knew a public aware of all the races, never dreaming of a situation where people wouldn’t know about people who didn’t look like them.

But that also meant that I grew up in a bubble, thinking the Greater Toronto Area a reflection of how things worked across the country instead of seeing it for what it is—one big Canadian anomaly.

Many Torontonians make the same mistake (after all, being steps away from an international airport makes cheap trips to the Caribbean far more alluring than costly domestic travel), but I wanted to show my kids more of the country than I’d ever seen myself. In those journeys, I realised something:

This country is white as hell.

And, Toronto? This might come as a shock to you.

Yes, we have Black people in Canada. No, they’re not LOST.

Embed from Getty Images

For a long time, people were surprised we have Black people in Canada, sure it was a country full of White people living in igloos and travelling by dogsled through a wintry tundra.

And they weren’t entirely wrong.

But before Drake came along and showed the world a different side of what a Canadian looked like, there were always Canadians who’d run online to our country’s defence, telling everyone that they’d be stunned if they knew how diverse our country was. We have representation from every corner of the world. Canada embraces people and weaves them into a cultural mosaic instead of having them assimilate as the United States does.

And their hearts were in the right place—if you look at our urban centres like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, this is indeed the case, as vast proportions of our BIPOC population calls urban Canada home. But it doesn’t take much travelling outside of those metropolitan hubs to understand just how homogeneous the rest of our country is.

Calgary 101: It’s More than Just the Stampede!

A Toronto does not a Canada make.

Toronto’s Cool, But What About the REST of Canada?

Ask most Torontonians what Canada means to them, and they’ll give you a perfect view that sounds very… Toronto.

Calgary 101 — The City that's More than Just the Stampede! — Toronto from AboveBusy and abundant with life. Representation from every corner of the world. It’s everything we big city slickers spout when we want to prove why our city is better than yours, but that’s from the same city who rarely explores their country east of Montreal or west of Niagara Falls. Instead, we hop on the nearest flight to the Dominican Republic or Cuba—after all, it’s hotter, cheaper, and it takes a lot less time to plan an all-inclusive vacation. But I’ll say the same thing about our country that I did about camping—it’s a mighty big world out there, and we’re doing ourselves a horrible disservice by not experiencing more of it.

Let me tell you some of what I’ve seen.

Welcome to Canada! Well… at Least SOME of it!

Calgary 101 — The City that's More than Just the Stampede! — Niagara Falls

At 9.985 million square kilometres, Canada’s the second-biggest country in the world, but much of it’s woefully underutilised.

I’ve seen a bit of it so far—plenty of Ontario through cottages and camping; weekend trips throughout western Quebec; and even some time on the West Coast lately.

But this isn’t the Canada I grew up discovering—it’s the 99.93% of the country that isn’t the Toronto area. The travelling I did with my parents was to see family—affording anything else simply wasn’t in the cards. But the travelling bug eventually caught me, and I realised how important it was to see more of my country if I truly wanted to call myself Canadian.

So on this journey to see the Canada everyone else sees so I can better understand it—and taking my kids along for the ride—I’d like to share some thoughts on this country with you from some of the people who live within it.

Our first stop? Calgary, Alberta—Canada’s great cowboy capital of the west!

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation

You only need to travel a few hours outside of the city to remember that very little of Canada is like Toronto.

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation — Driving Around in Smalltown Ontario

For last summer’s annual #PalmersGoWild camping trip, we hit up Port Burwell, Ontario, a small community of just over a thousand people and home to a lighthouse; the Simply Scoops ice cream parlour, and Port Burwell Provincial Park—the place we’d call home for a week in late August. Found just under three hours west of Toronto on the north shores of Lake Erie, it’s the perfect place to go if you want to slow things down a little—the kind of place you can let your kids roam free sans worry.

But I’m starting to understand that it’s not for everyone.

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation — The Boys Hanging Out in the Tent

Whenever anyone hears we’re going camping, we generally get one of two responses—nostalgic memories from the people who’ve done it, or good luck wishes from the ones who haven’t. And others fall somewhere in the middle, whether scarred from a bad experience or had a nice time, but too intimidated to go out and try it again on their own.

But let me tell you this as someone who didn’t take a shining to camping at first—if you’re unwilling to get out of your comfort zone and take the world as it comes, you’re missing out on so much of what it has to offer.

Chatting with Casey 0015 — I’m Where I Need to be Right Now

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, holiday traffic, and a whole gaggle of germs with cold and flu season upon us… just in time for the holidays.

Chatting with Casey 0015 — I'm Where I Need to be Right Now — Christmas — Must Buy All The Things

With our youngest hit by a pretty nasty cough over the weekend, productivity ground to a halt. You can easily take for granted how much you’re doing until something more important comes along and forces you to reprioritise. I learned over time to feel the pressure a little less and accept that my family doesn’t need me to be the best creator in the game—they need me to be present.

And so as I lay down in the bottom bunk of my sons’ bed with a kid who woke up for maybe the twelfth time that night, I put all thoughts of podcasting aside and took care of home as Dave Hollister aptly put it back in 2000.

But now that he’s up and running again, so am I, and it’s time to continue our storytelling journey with Chatting with Casey, Episode 15—I’m Where I Need to be Right Now.

Insurance Done Right — How to Protect the People You Care About WITHOUT Selling the Farm!

Change the Way you Insure with Esurance Insurance! — Winter in TorontoIt finally happened, Toronto. We thought we could dodge it and the good times would last forever. People strolled around in the middle of December with their coats wide open, not caring that the calendar marked toboggan season. I saw people still mowing their lawns in late November—a time of the year where everyone’s usually salting their walkways so they don’t slip and break their necks. No—snow’s hit Toronto, and it’s here with a vengeance.

But it could be worse—at least we have some idea of what to do when the world freezes over. Bundle up. Get winter tires on your car. Stock up on groceries just in case the weather gets bad. We do all we can to make it through winter, but is anyone making winter easier for you?

Let’s be real—winter takes its toll. Salt and snow do a number on your car, you need extra nutrition so you don’t catch cold… there are extra costs we need to pay to make it through this season, and it’s not like anyone’s paying us more to help out.

Good thing there are ways for us to pay less.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Esurance, an online insurance provider that can protect your interests and save you money!