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Monday, November 9, 2009

How I "Emigrated" to Canada...

It was 1973, and I wanted to apply for landed immigrant status in Canada; I got in just before they changed the law: within a few months of my application, an immigrant had to apply outside of Canada, so I was just under the wire, in time to apply from within.
I got a book from the Canadian Government on how to apply...there was a points system, and you had to have a total of X number of points to qualify for landed immigration status. I was a bit worried, because, in 1973, to say I was broke was the least of it, and I had no formal education beyond the requisite high school diploma.  My live-in partner and I decided to get married to help ease my way in, but it wasn't a marriage of convenience at all, just the next step ...still not enough. I noticed while perusing this bureaucratic booklet that an artist would have enough points to qualify, with everything else I had going for me...native English speaker, from the US (Canada also had a quota system, I think, now, designed to encourage European/North American types to apply, rather than the Asian refugees of the time, who were numerous). So I boldly announced, when asked my profession in the first interview, that I was an artist.
"A professional artist?" queried the interviewer..".Oh yes, I have sold work", I said, which of course, on the
face of it was true, but really, I was overreaching, to put it kindly...
He looked at me quizzically, and smiled, stating, "Alright, then, please bring me a piece of work when you return for your second interview in a week's time." He looked quite smug,  pleased with himself, as if he had cornered me...
Of course, I had to think carefully about what to paint. My husband and I spent alot of time making terrible jokes about painting some awful black velvet thing (hard to believe, but they were wildly popular at the time)
or an equally hokey subject that might answer for what he wanted.
I decided, being the brat that I was, and hopefully, still am, to mess with his mind a bit...I wanted to shock him, but in a way that would make it impossible for him to turn me down...what would work?
Then I had a great brainflash...I would do a pointilist portrait of a famous figure of history, and paint it as if it were the portrait on the face of a currency bill...
Did I mention I was a brat...the famous figure of history was Lenin...done in greens and money...

When I went in to the interview, he looked quite crestfallen to see me with a canvas under my arm...I'm sure he thought I could no more paint than type...and of course, I could do both..
I placed the painting on an open file drawer, facing him, standing up at an angle...he looked at it for quite a while, saying nothing, but an occaisional frown would momentarily crease his brow as he tried to discern the identity of the portrait, and his eyes were at war with his brain...I don't think he could quite believe that I would bring a picture of Lenin in to be critiqued in a Canadian government office...
Finally, he looked straight at me, eyes twinkling and a small smile on his face..I know he was dying to ask, but he wouldn't give me the satisfaction...he merely said "You're in!" and stalked out of the room, leaving my husband and I speechless, but supressing our own laughter.


  1. Dear mama Mizdarlin, We are all Mamas!!! Even my little girls are mamas!!! So yes YOU ARE A MAMA!! And Nobody Puts Mama In A Corner!!! So glad you came to visit my blog!!!WElcome and enjoy the silly ride!!
    Mama Holli

  2. Thanks for the tip....adding it to the post!

  3. Hi Wendi,
    What a great story!!! You made me smile with this one!
    Thanks for your offer of the "Flu Fairy" and for your kind words!