Canada Day The South Asian Way


By Anchel Krishna @AnchelK


In her first article as a parenting writer for, Anchel shares her family’s Canada Day traditions.

When I was growing up, long weekends – like Canada Day – were often spent at places like Ontario Place. A picnic of parantha or chaana were often on the menu, as was a bottle of C-Plus and a stack of plastic cups. Sound familiar?

Six years ago (wow!) I was lucky enough to marry my husband, Dilip, a true partner in every sense of the word. Two and a half years ago we welcomed our daughter, Syona, into our lives. Since Dilip and I got married, most of our Canada Day weekends have been spent indoors at Indian weddings. Our Canada Day traditions consist of watching wedding slideshows, lining up for delicious dinners and me grabbing a dinner plate full of dessert and pretending it is for the whole table.

This year, I got to thinking about Canada Day traditions. We don’t have a cottage where we go every summer, and since our daughter is so young we don’t often participate in fireworks, etc. As I was writing this post I wondered, does my family even have Canada Day traditions?



Photo courtesy: Anchel Krishna

My parents immigrated to Canada from India in the 1970s. My dad grew up in Ludhiana in Punjab, and my mom was a city girl from Delhi. They met here in Canada and had their first “date” at the CN Tower. Within four months they were married. Four years later I came along, followed by two sisters.

Dilip’s parents were married in India and moved from Chennai to Peterborough. His dad finished his PhD and eventually ended up in research and development for a pharmaceutical company. They had Dilip and four years later Dilip had a brother. My mother in law is also a scientist but gave up her career 20 years ago and started a charity that helped children with disabilities in India

The reason our parents came here was simple but it wasn’t easy: It was to build a better life for themselves and their families. It’s probably the same reason some of you or your parents moved to another country.

And they did build an amazing life for us. They worked really hard on their careers, they spent lots of time with their family and they built their support system and community. I don’t know that I would have the courage to do the same.

Over the years I have come to appreciate all our families did for us, and all they continue to do for us. When Syona was born, there were complications. She had some health issues and spent her first two weeks in a hospital. As Syona went through her first year of life we noticed she was missing milestones. Just before her first birthday she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a non-degenerative neurological condition that impacts the way her brain communicates with her muscles. In Syona’s case it means her muscles are really tight (spastic), which can limit her range of motion. Syona is a mostly happy girl, with a strong personality (wonder where she gets that?). She loves music and is extremely social. She doesn’t walk independently yet (we work on that through lots of physiotherapy) and is starting to talk quite a bit. She loves cars, blocks, stacking cups and her doll.

And as with everything else, our family has stepped up in a huge way. Dilip’s parents take care of Syona when we go to work and shuttle her from appointment to appointment. They work tirelessly on her therapy goals so both Dilip and I can go to work and do what we love, knowing that our girl is so well cared for. My parents help us get over the witching hour hump every night (you know the moment your child transforms from a toddler to an unrecognizable ball of tantrum and tired all in one) with a solid session of Facetime. They give me strength when I am feeling overwhelmed (and a weekly delivery of Indian food). And my sisters, their husbands, my brother-in-law and his wife are about as close as siblings can get. They are our backups for just about everything and provide us with so much support.


Flag_of_Canada.svgSo what are our Canada Day traditions? Well I think in our case, our traditions aren’t actually traditions at all. They are values – of unconditional love, support and community. And those values aren’t linked to a holiday, or a country. They are linked to people.


See that table I talked about at the weddings (the one I pretend to share my dessert with) is filled with family and our closest friends. It’s a pretty fantastic way to spend Canada Day, or any day for that matter.


What are your Canada Day traditions? What are your family values?



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