ex­plores jour­neys, chal­lenges of life for mixed-race cou­ples

Cape Breton Post - - OUR COMMUNITY -

their first meet­ing to mar­riage.

One episode in the 13-part se­ries fea­tures Hier­she­nee and James Sul­li­van, and of­fers view­ers a glimpse of their jam-packed wed­ding day last Au­gust in Toronto with two sep­a­rate cer­e­monies — Catholic and Hindu.

Hier­she­nee Sul­li­van said she and her hus­band, who met while teach­ing English in Tai­wan in 2004, have been em­braced by each other’s fam­i­lies.

But it was ini­tially dif­fi­cult for her par­ents, who im­mi­grated to Canada in the early 1980s and had en­vi­sioned their daugh­ter mar­ry­ing an In­dian man.

Sul­li­van, 30, said while she cared about her par­ents’ opin­ions, she didn’t un­der­stand the depth of what they were go­ing through un­til she watched the episode.

“ There was sort of like this light bulb (mo­ment) where I was like, ’ Wow, I get it, I’m break­ing a 1,000year tra­di­tion,”’ she said from Mor­ris­town, N.J., where she lives with her hus­band.

“I just thought they were kind of stuck in th­ese hard-set ways and they were not rec­og­niz­ing life is not just about mar­ry­ing some­body In­dian — you meet some­body that you match with and there’s a whole com­pat­i­bil­ity as­pect to love and mar­riage.”

“I just thought they were be­ing short-sighted and I didn’t rec­og­nize how im­por­tant it was to them, re­ally. I don’t think I fully looked at it from their per­spec­tive.”

Se­ries

pro­ducer

Bar­bara Mar­getts said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that im­mi­grant par­ents who live in Canada but were raised in a more tra­di­tional cul­ture of­ten com­mented that they imag­ined their chil­dren end­ing up with some­one of the same back­ground.

“Any­body who has been brought up with a cer­tain set of tra­di­tions and be­liefs, that’s go­ing to in­form who they are,” she said. “ What I’ve found is that in a lot of cases ... the chil­dren who’ve been brought up in a dif­fer­ent so­ci­ety, who were brought up in Canada, who went to school with kids all over the place with all sorts of dif­fer­ent back­grounds, just sim­ply weren’t as tra­di­tional as their par­ents were and wanted to fol­low their own path.”

In the cases of Sul­li­van and Wanh Porter, who is fea­tured with her hus­band Dan in a sep­a­rate episode of the se­ries, both women had dated out­side their own race prior to meet­ing and mar­ry­ing their spouses.

Porter, who was born in Laos, said while her mother had wanted her to marry some­one within their own cul­ture, that changed be­cause shar­ing the same faith — in this case Chris­tian­ity — was more im­por­tant.

“Colour was never an is­sue for me,” said Porter, an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist at a Toronto hospi­tal. “I guess maybe be­cause I was im­mersed right away into Cana­dian cul­ture grow­ing up, com­ing here when I was so young, that it just didn’t faze me.”

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