At the most basic level, our stories can be reduced to what we identify as and who our parents are. Any story is as much what has happened as what is happening, and identity is no different.
The various components of my persona, the building blocks of who I am and what that means, are about as varied as they come - I am an immigrants’ child and a Canadian, a Guyanese and a Jew, an activist and a writer and a friend and a fiance. My parents left the racialised socialism of the Caribbean to weather capitalism in the Great White North. I interact with people as a homegrown citizen and as a minority striving to be taken seriously, and as an individual that identifies separately from both.
Anyone of diverse background (and who isn’t?) can recognize the tension of conflicting identities. When does pride of one source become a hindrance to another? Do we try to blend, or stand out boldly? How do we dress, or talk, or act, or feel?
Of course there is no general rule, no approach that guarantees universal acceptance, and so we must struggle on and hope for mercy until we sort ourselves out.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of discussion about what constitutes a human right; what is fundamental and what is ideal, and where to draw the line in between. This is good, as rights (or at least their wording) cannot be static - there will always be a circumstance that challenges our intentions and understanding. Asking, then, what is the most fundamental of fundamentals is an inherently impossible question. Some will say freedom of speech, others the right to shelter, many will advocate the right to equality before the law. Myself, I consider the right to mobility - to leave a place, to enter a place, to travel within and beyond borders - to be paramount.
I am the child of immigrants, themselves the products of a hundred years of drifting cultures, and most citizens of the Americas would say the same. Even indigenous peoples of the continent, of any continent, possess a rich history of migration, displacement, and expansion. We, as people and as organisms, cannot thrive without movement and change, always sidestepping stagnation. And as such, we have countless stories of our misadventures and achievements, our losses and our wonders.
What this project seeks is to share our stories of wandering, whether large or small or comic or tragic, to demonstrate that we are, at our heart, a Migrant Nation.