Although I did not live in Canada at the time of Confederation’s centennial, I was here that year as two college friends and I drove up to Expo 67 in Montreal from New York City. As young students, hoping to become architects, we really wanted to see Habitat and the amazing geodesic dome of Bucky Fuller.

It turned out we saw little of Expo 67 because we met some very hospitable young Canadian women who took us to a cottage on a lake in rural Quebec.

Thirty-eight years later, in 2005, after George W. Bush’s re-election, I immigrated to Canada. I have been a citizen for two years. Aside from my born-in-Canada canine companion, Jessie, my most cherished possession is my Canadian passport.

Canada has been very generous in its welcome. Starting as a volunteer at AIDS Vancouver Island, I was quickly recruited to their board of directors and eventually served as chair. I was the HIV+ representative for Vancouver Island to the board of the Pacific AIDS Network for six years.

I now serve on the board of directors of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, one of our premier charitable societies, working in the arena of human rights and social justice. I am fortunate to collaborate with the Victoria Foundation to help manage my charitable giving for the greatest impact.

Initially I was given opportunities to tell my own story about living at the crossroad of HIV infection and clinical depression.

Now I recount the stories, generously told to me by my neighbours about their lives lived at the intersection of poverty, homelessness, mental health/addiction challenges, infection and despair. Much of my travel to conferences and meetings was underwritten by the Public Health Agency of Canada while Stephen Harper was our prime minister.

I often remark that Harper sent me on a 21st-century grand tour of Canada, taking me from Vancouver Island to the easternmost point of our country and the continent, Cape Spear, to share these stories.

As the judge who swore me into my Canadian citizenship addressed the room, “Welcome to Canada, where you can realize your dreams if you apply yourself.” Well both myself and my community have dreamt big for me. I find myself in just over a decade, not only welcomed as “un vrai canadien” into “kinder, gentler” Canada, but also been given the opportunity to help effect positive changes for my most discriminated against, challenged and struggling neighbours in a substantive way.

I view immigration as the fountain of youth. In Canadian years I am just past my 11th birthday. I approach our world as filled with magic, wonder and possibilities as any 11-year-old might do! — Andrew Beckermann

A fresh perspective Times Colonist June 30, 2017 04:02 PM Although I did not live in Canada at the time of Confederation’s centennial, I was here that year as two college friends and I drove up to Expo 67 in Montreal from New York City. As young students, hoping to become architects, we really wanted to see Habitat and the amazing geodesic dome of Bucky Fuller.It turned out we saw little of Expo 67 because we met some very hospitable young Canadian women who took us to a cottage on a lake in rural Quebec.Thirty-eight years later, in 2005, after George W. Bush’s re-election, I immigrated to Canada. I have been a citizen for two years. Aside from my born-in-Canada canine companion, Jessie, my most cherished possession is my Canadian passport.Canada has been very generous in its welcome. Starting as a volunteer at AIDS Vancouver Island, I was quickly recruited to their board of directors and eventually served as chair. I was the HIV+ representative for Vancouver Island to the board of the Pacific AIDS Network for six years.I now serve on the board of directors of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, one of our premier charitable societies, working in the arena of human rights and social justice. I am fortunate to collaborate with the Victoria Foundation to help manage my charitable giving for the greatest impact.Initially I was given opportunities to tell my own story about living at the crossroad of HIV infection and clinical depression.Now I recount the stories, generously told to me by my neighbours about their lives lived at the intersection of poverty, homelessness, mental health/addiction challenges, infection and despair. Much of my travel to conferences and meetings was underwritten by the Public Health Agency of Canada while Stephen Harper was our prime minister. I often remark that Harper sent me on a 21st-century grand tour of Canada, taking me from Vancouver Island to the easternmost point of our country and the continent, Cape Spear, to share these stories. As the judge who swore me into my Canadian citizenship addressed the room, “Welcome to Canada, where you can realize your dreams if you apply yourself.” Well both myself and my community have dreamt big for me. I find myself in just over a decade, not only welcomed as “un vrai canadien” into “kinder, gentler” Canada, but also been given the opportunity to help effect positive changes for my most discriminated against, challenged and struggling neighbours in a substantive way. I view immigration as the fountain of youth. In Canadian years I am just past my 11th birthday. I approach our world as filled with magic, wonder and possibilities as any 11-year-old might do! — Andrew Beckermann

Source: http://www.timescolonist.com/a-fresh-perspective-1.20864663