explores journeys, challenges of life for mixed-race couples
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.”
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.”