Fight the Urge to Ask

Where is your accent from?

Where are you from?

These are questions that can affect people in different ways. For some, it’s a welcome invitation to share information about their rich life experience. But for others—especially those who have been here for years—they are questions they’ve been asked so often that they instantly feel deflated. For yet others, it’s like a smack in the face, making them feel that they don’t belong in this country. I’ve heard from a lot of the latter. Sometimes it’s what brings them to me. They want to sound like they were born and raised in English Canada, just so they can stop getting the questions.

My job is to point out that they are not flawed. This country is.

Fight the urge to ask the question. You can’t know its impact. Where your conversation partner is from is something they may bring up if it’s relevant to the conversation and if they want to share it with you. Until then, think of other things to ask. You know, like those things you ask people who sound the same as you.