I’m tucked under a fish blanket in the summer porch of a lovely Air b&b in London Ontario.
After a mess of driving through and around Southern Ontario (Owen Sound Toronto; Owen Sound; Waterloo; Owen Sound; Toronto; London) in the past week it’s good to be planted in the side porch of a stately old pile of yellow bricks in my housecoat, with a satisfying cup of coffee beside me.
My daughter, her father and I have sent our expectorant to a lab in Ireland where our DNA will be tested. From this test our ancestry will be revealed to us (and our data will be added to a growing ocean of data about origin, migration, connection among humans).
My results came in yesterday, with few surprises:
Ethnicity Estimate: Great Britain 58%; Ireland/Scotland/Wales (Scotland): 16%; Europe West 10%
Low Confidence Regions (though the percentages are small, these connections are more interesting to me. Caucasus?!? That’s the Middle East.)
Europe East 5%; European Jewish 3%; Finland/Northwest Russia 3%; Scandinavia 2%; Caucasus 2%; Iberian Peninsula < 1%
Migrations (also interesting, but no surprises here. Clearly I’m not indigenous to Canada, through I’m seventh generation born-here on my Mother’s side. I come from a long line of european colonial settlers.
I know about this – my mother’s mother’s family were Pennsylvania Deutch, descended from German refugees of the Thirty-Years War who were permitted to enter England. Queen Victoria sent 10,000 of these overseas to settle in the English colonies under William Penn.
From your regions: Great Britain, Ireland/Scotland/Wales, Europe West
I know about this too – A recession and the potato famine in Scotland, the result of a market crash in England pushed my Kennedy ancestor overseas to the Ottawa Valley in 1935, then to Owen Sound where he built a foundry. My McArthur ancestors were farmers and blacksmiths out of Campbeltown and Glasgow area who were granted land in Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. Land that blew away in the dust of the ’30s, when my father was born.
So here am I, white woman of european & Scottish descent sitting on a porch built by wealthy English colonials one hundred or more years ago on indigenous treaty lands.
I wonder if these massive elm trees were planted then, to give name to Elmwood Street. I wonder who planted them, how they were paid, and by whom.
I wonder whether the beauty of these living elms is the real wonder, regardless of who, when or how. they came to be here.
If someone reversed what has more recently been said to Syrian refugees and Dreamers in the United States, and told me to “Go back where you came from”, I would be unable to do so, even if I were willing even eager to leave this North American culture that has so shaped me. I cannot legally live and work in the UK under the current international laws and policies that currently exist.
As a white person, descended from Scots and european industrialists, I am privileged.
My gender makes me less so. My chosen single-ness less so again. My profession as artist/musician/writer/grad student…. well. Because of that I get to have more interesting discussions.
My name is on the title deed of a tiny piece of property which is actually not, from an indigenous / ally point of view, own-able by anyone.
So where is my home?
It’s more than possible that I do not, in fact, have one, save for whatever place I choose to put roots into, for however long. I am a nomad, as are we all here now, in North America, though indigenous roots go deeper than any of us white folk might guess, and it behooves us to pay attention, and learn from those cultures.
But we can also learn from out own. For example, and as a start, out of western Europe comes Capitalism and Schizophrenia, which I highly recommend to anyone trying to sort out the why and how of these times.
Nomads Matter, in this complex system of us.
I am honoured, and challenged, to know myself as one.