April 2, 2012 by Amie M
I am a Manitoba Girl. I was born in a small hospital in a small town. My parents had to drive 10 miles with my mom in labour in order to deliver me off the farm. I grew up on a half acre lot, on the wrong side of the road to be considered part of town. We lived beside a llama farm, with sheep in the back, and up the tracks from abandoned limestone quarries. My town was really a hamlet of less than 100 people. My best friend lived down the street, and we loved to play in her playhouse and throw mud at her little brother. My other best friend lived 10 miles away, and it wasn’t until high school that I could drive to see him more often that we became best friends.
4-H was a huge part of my life. I dove right in at the wonderful age of 8 and never looked back. I did Woodworking for 9 years and am a fantastic cabinet and furniture maker, or so my dad who was my leader used to say.
I had a lot of opportunities despite being from the smallest of the small towns, because I was always looking for more. I wanted to do more. I wanted to be more. I knew there was a huge world outside of my front door, and I wanted to see it all.
During a 4-H exchange to Wellington County when I was 15, I fell in love with Guelph. The university, the city, everything felt like home. It felt like a small town, it felt like a community. I wanted to move there. So I worked my scrawny, country butt off to get as many scholarships as I could (tuition was almost double University of Manitoba) so I could go to Guelph and be a vet. Yes, at that time, I thought I could conquer my fear of needles and handle healing animals in excruciating pain. When I realized I couldn’t, I looked at the other programs offered by the university and settled on Environmental Sciences.
So in 2005, with 4 suitcases, Mom and Dad in tow, I moved to Guelph. I have been here for 7 years. At first, in undergrad I went home every summer for work and to be with family. Eventually, after 3rd year I stayed even in the summer. Something was keeping me here. I still loved going home, and loved spending time with my family, but Guelph was becoming my home.
I have been putting off making it official for 3 years. I have been living in this great city, living the lifestyle I love and am comfortable with, surrounded by some wonderful people, but wasn’t quite ready to give up my little green Manitoba driver’s licence, and paper health card. For 3 years I’ve been saying “Oh, I’ll get to it,” and never did.
Until today. Today I am an Ontarian. I signed the paperwork getting me an Ontario Health Card, and am going to the driver’s licencing centre to switch to an Ontario licence. Why does it feel like I am giving up my roots? This has so much permanency weighing down on me. Does this mean I have to commit to living here, in this province? I know I can just up and move, and it’s easy to go back home. But Manitobans make fun of Ontarians, and their Toronto-centric mindset, and forgetting the prairies exist. Will I become like that? Or will I always be defensive of my homeland?
I just have to com to terms with it. Even though my ID will now say Ontario and have a trillium, I will still have bison, the boreal, borscht and wide open spaces in my heart.