Up until now, almost all my interviewees have come from places where English was not the first language, and, of course, the language barrier is often mentioned as one of the biggest challenges of settling here. So I was interested to find out what would come from a chat with a migrant from English-speaking Canada, a country, which along with New Zealand and the UK, is considered culturally most similar to Australia. Would there really be much of interest to talk about ?
As with many of my interviewees, I was tipped off about Jeff through word-of-mouth as someone who could be interesting to talk too, and he was happy for me to interview him at his home in East Launceston and it turned out to be both a fun and interesting chat with a mix of astute and amusing insights about life in Tasmania or a Canadian.
Although I didn't know a lot about Jeff before meeting him, but I knew he was a skin cancer specialist and knowing that medical personnel make up quite a large cohort of the skilled migration intake in Tasmania, it was important to cover that particular experience. But as it turned out, Jeff talked about a whole range of interesting observations about the different places he'd lived in in Australia.
Like many others I've talked to, Jeff and his family lived for some years on the "big island" before deciding to move to Tasmania for a combination of reasons including for the cooler climate and more suitable lifestyle. Having had a fairly unpleasant experience working in WA at the height of the mining boom myself, I could relate to some of Jeff's comments about aspects he didn't like there about the "dig it up, ship it out" culture. It also tied in with my theory that people come to Tasmania for quite different and distinct reasons compared to some of the major cities of Australia. In this and many other interviews, I've picked up that a move to Tasmania is often a very conscious, thought-out decision, based on far more personal reasons than elsewhere.
I think for others who have lived in Tasmania little while, Jeff's observations about the Launceston-Hobart rivalry and the peculiar Tasmanian "custom" of wearing shorts and t-shirts in winter will definitely strike a chord and hopefully elicit a knowing smile from a few locals as well. I am actually surprised no one has mentioned these phenomenae before in any of my interviews !
What I also enjoyed about this interview was getting a bit of an insight into what Jeff appreciated about his upbringing as a Canadian in Toronto and what experiences he wanted to sort of pass on to his daughters. One of the key differences he mentioned was the particularly North American tradition of summer camps, something we don't have, but which Jeff has been interested in perhaps introducing to Tasmania. For me, it was a good example of how migrants can bring in new ideas and concepts which could really make sense here, and we can see how that happens via many migrant communities.
So if you're interested in hearing some interesting perspectives about Tassie from a Canadadian perspective or you'd like to know a little about Canada, check out the episode at the top of the post !