By Libier Gomez

What are the first things that come to mind when you think of Canada?

Some may say hockey, the maple leaf, beaver, moose, Mounties, friendly people, red and white…

Before saying what I think, it is important to mention that I was born and raised in Mexico, a beautiful country with extraordinary and lovely people but with the challenges of a Third World country. After 9 years of living in Canada, here is what I will say:

Safety: Overall, you can go out wherever you want, whenever you want. I can be walking in the park at 10pm, let my kids walk to school or play outside with their friends and I know we are safe. I can drive and have my purse on the passenger seat and I’m not afraid that at the next stop light somebody will break my window and steal it.

Equality: Our health care is a good example. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a big corporation, the bus driver or the employee of a small convenience store. We all have access to good health care. From my experience, response at the emergency room is really based on the severity of the case. On one occasion, I had to wait over 4 hours to see a doctor but on another occasion, we were taken immediately.

Opportunity: I truly believe that it starts with education. It might not be perfect but it covers the basics like teachers, classrooms with roofs and windows, and books.

Freedom of Speech: As far as I have seen, you can be critical of the system without being afraid to express your opinion. If you decide to participate in a public demonstration, you know that at the end of it you will go back home unharmed.

And last but not least, I can officially call Canada HOME!

It was a long, difficult and challenging process, but I can now finally say I’m a Canadian citizen, eh!