During my break with family and friends in Canada, my heart danced in a different way that was completely unexpected because of a local dance showcase in Toronto, the most multi-cultural city in the world.
ATTITUDES Master Class welcomes everyone regardless of age, dance skills, experience, gender, body type, race, or walk of life. Everyone clearly shares the passion of dancing. Throughout the show, it was obvious that there was no judgement or discrimination of any kind whatsoever – the diversity, cultural and physical, was powerful.
I’ve witnessed things like this countless times having grown up in Canada, but this time, after having moved away from Japan after 5.5 years, it made my heart dance in huge waves of acceptance, comfort, and peace.
In Japan, you’re either Japanese or you’re not. To be considered Japanese, you have to be 100% genetically Japanese and you have to have been born and raised in Japan. Otherwise, you’re an outsider, which is how foreigner is written in Japanese as outside country person – 外国人 (gai koku jin). It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in Japan or how much you contribute to society – either you’re Japanese or you’re not.
I’ve told hundreds of people countless times that in Canada, especially in Toronto, that you don’t know who is a foreigner, immigrant, or whatever because of the multiculturalism and more importantly, because NO ONE CARES.
Okay, people care in that they’re interested in family history and culture, but it’s not like Japan where if you’re not Japanese, you’re a second-class citizen. In Japan, I’m not seen as Japanese, and the best way I can describe how that feels is having a knife shoved through my heart. If I say that I am not Japanese, I am dismissing my family.
Canada, like every other country on this earth, is NOT perfect, but the dance showcase last week reminded me of how accepting and warm Canada is. Like I’ve explained to native Japanese people countless times, there is no such thing as looking Canadian and that there is no Canadian DNA. People don’t care whether or not you’re a citizen, recently landed immigrant, tourist, or whatever.
Tim Turney, who started the ATTITUDES Master Class studio 26 years ago, obviously feels this way. In 2014, his studio was named “Best Dance Studio in Richmond Hill/Markham” by Post Magazines. The dancers clearly enjoy themselves not only because of their love for dancing, but because of the community that Tim created.
Seeing everyone from children to senior citizens from all kinds of backgrounds and with different body types dance to their hearts’ content was heartwarming and a wonderful reminder of how peaceful and harmonious Canada really is.
The show was also a reminder that it’s never too late to start something new. Dance is still known to be something that you have to start at a young age. Like with everything else, when there is a will, there is a way.
I needed to be reminded of that, and it couldn’t have come in a better way…it came with overwhelming heartfelt appreciation for being Canadian.