I was born and raised in Minnesota, one of four children of Canadian parents. Since all my cousins and aunts and uncles lived in Canada, we traveled across the border frequently as I was growing up. I spent my summers at a YWCA camp on an island in the Canadian waters of Lake of the Woods, with my sisters and my Canadian cousins. After finishing an undergraduate degree in biology, I immigrated to Canada in 1969, during the Vietnam war. I did a PhD in developmental neurobiology and worked in medical research. In 1993 I completed a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and worked as a veterinarian until 2008. I am married to a Canadian and have no children and two horses. I retain my US citizenship and took out Canadian citizenship in 2003. I carry both passports when I cross the border, which I do annually on visits to friends and family.
Many of my fellow dual citizens are renouncing their US citizenship. I understand their reasons, but I will not join them.
At the end of the 19th century my great grandfather with his wife and eleven children homesteaded a large area of land in what is now part of the city of Calgary, and he and his descendants helped to build the small rough cattle town into the vibrant industrious city it is today. Calgary’s Riley Park is named for the family. The suburb of Hounsfield Heights bears the family name of my great grandmother. One of my grandfathers worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway for fifty-one years, working his way from the mail room to a vice-presidency. My other grandfather was a land surveyor in northern Manitoba and served as MPP for Rupertsland before World War II. There is a lake northeast of Winnipeg in gold-mining country that was named for him.
Many of my Canadian ancestors emigrated to the United States, including my parents. I grew up in America and I still believe in the principles it once stood for. My political views have been shaped by the incomparable words in the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysberg Address. I believe the Constitution of the United States to be one of the finest documents ever written, because it answers the hardest question we face as a species: how should we live with one another? My family has been a cross-border family for generations and many of us have dual citizenship. I consider myself a North American and it is my birthright to live where I choose on this landmass.
Some say that you cannot be truly loyal to two countries. My loyalty is to two things: the land itself, and the ideals of a free society. I will not choose between these two great countries because I belong to both of them, and they both belong to me. This cannot be changed by man-made borders and oppressive tax codes.
Thanks for sharing your story. You reveal what many of us feel, whether we decide to relinquish US citizenship or no: love and pride in both Canada and United States. Frustration with our personal conundrum caused by the United States’ policy towards its citizens abroad. I hope best for you in the choice that you’ve made.
Thank you Petros. No one makes this decision easily, and there is no wrong choice because people do what they think is best at the time they choose.
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