#Chronicle150 — 150 Truly Canadian Stories for its 150th Birthday — #29, Robert Iveniuk, Writer

I admittedly had a far more grandiose introduction in mind for the second phase to #Chronicle150, but there’s an àpropos saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men that comes to mind instead.

Tales from the 2.9 was quite the ordeal and an ambitious way to start #Chronicle150, but with my annual Black History Month celebration at a close, I’m redirecting my energies into celebrating this sesquicentennial in style—I only get one shot at it, after all! I’ll share my thoughts soon enough, but I’ll let my good friend Rob start us off for now.

Rob’s one of the most intelligent and passionate writers I know—his #Chronicle150 submission has a lot to pick apart, from our murky history to our internationally renown niceness, and a bevy of ways in which we can grow. I think you’ll take a lot from his words, and hopefully, they inspire you to look at your own Canadian experience and what you’ve gleaned from it!

I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll see you tomorrow with the 30th #Chronicle150 post!

Until then,

–case p.


Who are you and what are you all about?

My name is Robert William Iveniuk, and I am an author, columnist, and scriptwriter who lives and works in Toronto. I enjoy flights of fancy and media studies, and I have worked in and out of the not-for-profit sector for years. Whether or not I am good at any of those things is up for debate, really.

#Chronicle150 — 150 Truly Canadian Stories for its 150th Birthday — #29, Robert Iveniuk, Writer — Robert Iveniuk Speaking

What makes you so Canadian?

I could type “I was born here, mate” and then walk away, but then I wouldn’t be a good writer if I did that.

Let’s go into terminology first, because that definition of “Canadian” has become increasingly vague over the years – and for the better, really.

When I think of such concepts as The Canadian, I think back to what I’d always been told growing up that Canada embraces being a Mosaic over a Melting Pot, that people are Swedish-Canadian, Bengali-Canadian, Ghanaian-Canadian, or First Nations, rather than simply “Being Canadian.” It’s that idea of having distinct values that you grew up with, maintaining a unique cultural or ethnic identity while being part of a larger whole. Being Canadian, in that respect, is not about Where You Came From so much as it is about What You Came From. It’s asking that question of how the hardships you and your family endured and whatever privileges you benefitted from over the generations affected your worldview and what you expect out of life and other people. It is also your reference point for your ideas of success and being a better person to yourself and those around you.

Speaking for myself, my family’s history is pretty Canadian. My father is descended from Ukrainian refugees who fled Eastern Europe during the Bolshevik Revolution, and my mother is an expat who left Britain to see the world.  Hearing about my father’s life growing up in the poorer parts of Winnipeg and my mother’s experiences when she first came here played a huge part in my growth as a person. This made it easy for me to understand the friends I’d made who were New Canadians or still had family abroad. It was also what inspired my decision to work in the not-for-profit sector, especially in immigration, and part of the reason why I am a storyteller.

That ability to connect and empathise with other people, no matter how different they are, is very Canadian to me. It’s something that I see in my family, friends, and the people around me, and it’s something that I see in myself.