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Why Vancouver? Why You?

Thank you to all entrants. Please visit the semifinalist page to view the top ten essays as determined by our panel and the public voting. Click here to view the top ten

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Vancouver’s Love

By Inga O Lawrence

My fascination with Vancouver began early on. I was born in Quebec to Caribbean parents so Vancouver seemed a world away to my East Coast brain. I’d travelled up and down the East Coast, almost to Venezuela with ease but western North America seemed so foreign. Yet as the restlessness started to emerge I knew I was destined to leave Montreal. New York City was my “Go big or go home!” dream city to move to but with immigration to consider, Toronto and Vancouver both vied for my attention as Canadian cities of choice.

“Montreal can’t hold me!” I’d say every chance I could get. I knew that Montreal was a big city but the French–English word war polarized the inhabitants and made me feel unwanted. I was a part of the triple minority in their eyes: female, English and Black and I could feel it. Was I destined to a life of servitude because I didn’t fit the acceptable power mold? I didn’t think so! Around that time a few people I knew were heading west and coming back to Montreal with stories of opportunity and growth in Vancouver. I was captivated by the tales of acceptance and mild weather. I was swayed by the recounting of health consciousness and lush green spaces. Those who set their sights on a better life claimed to have found it and whole families prepared for their trek out west reminiscent of the pilgrimages I’d watched on “Little House on the Prairie” as a youngster.
My inner turmoil built. “Should I go? What about my close knit family? I was planning on leaving them behind but to go that far?” My cousin Dionne made the move first; really the decision was easy for her because she had her daughter’s father and his massive family as a guide. They jumped at the opportunity and left Montreal in the dust. I was more pensive. I tried to weigh every possibility and could only rationalize a move to Toronto. It was a practical decision. It was a 6 hour drive to visit family and friends. I had an uncle who was well established there and I could easily convince friends and family to make the drive to come visit when I was overwhelmed with loneliness, which was more often than I’d care to admit.

Like the marriage that you enter into for all the “right reasons” I was making my new city home. Toronto was nice yet it reminded me of a marriage of convenience which lacks love. From time to time I would get news of how Vancouver was doing. “Did you hear that Vancouver is now THE city for movie making?” Ouch. The words stung a bit as I thought, “I could have been there. I could have experienced that.” A neighbor became friendly and in conversation it came out that he just moved to Toronto from Vancouver. That piece of information made me think that maybe I didn’t make a poor choice after all. However, when the time came and I knew I had to leave Toronto; that is when it hit me. Vancouver was the city that got away.

I did find my way to New York City later on in life and enjoyed the city so much more than my younger self could have. I eventually made my way to Atlanta GA where I married someone from, of all places, Alberta. That fact also reminded me of my potential encounters with British Columbia, Alberta’s neighbor. I am content in the way my life has turned out but I cannot help wonder what could have been if I went west. I know more than ever that Vancouver and I would have been a lifelong fit. As I watch House Hunters and a piece of BC property is featured, my heart skips a beat. I instantly insert myself, imagining I am looking for a place to store my skis and bicycles. When I get calls from friends and family heading to Vancouver on business or pleasure trips I visualize and research it as if I were going there myself. Every detail planned out and discussed ad nauseam. I was told that wherever you are in Vancouver it has been written into building codes that you must be able to see the mountains. I love gazing at nature. I shared a moment with a nurse on a routine Doctor’s visit about her travels to Vancouver and how she was tempted to never come back. The warmth of the people, the quality of life and care in food all spoke to her. All I could do was grin and nod as she spoke because they speak to me to! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that even getting dressed for my weekly yoga classes, as I don my Lululemon outfit, I feel Vancouver’s love. I am proud to spend my money with a company that stands for health, wellness and community. All of which I stand for. I am more convinced now than ever that I was supposed to be living in Vancouver. Oh the irony that I have never set foot within its borders. However, I am jubilant to say that that is all about to change!

I am the Maid of Honor in my cousin Dionne’s wedding. She has finally found her prince and they are uniting on the grounds of Cedar Creek Estate Winery for a destination wedding in Kelowna. I feel like a nervous giddy bride too in my own way as I look forward to the October nuptials. I will finally be reunited with the land that I was supposed to call home over 20 years ago. As family and friends celebrate the new couple, I will also be celebrating my love of Vancouver BC.

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