growing up among strangers

growing up among strangers

Release date:


Running time:

26 minutes


Available on DVD

Closed Captioned:


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  • Audience level:
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Growing up among strangers examines the duality of growing up in Canada's cultural mosaic. Several young Canadians from diverse cultural backgrounds talk about their struggles to balance two worlds-the traditional, cultural values of home and the westernized culture that lies outside. Their stories are combined with comments from Canadians of earlier generations who understand this dilemma very well-author Wayson Choy (The Jade Peony), Zarqa Nawaz, creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie and YTV host Carlos Bustamante. This combination of current anecdotes and memories upon reflection shed light on the difficulties and benefits of living in two different cultures while remaining true to one's self.

"For many young people from minority immigrant families, those early in-between tensions can be bitter and difficult to bear. But I know from my own experience that those of us struggling between cultures, well, we're really at a kind of banquet table, a childhood place where we can eventually choose to be nourished from the best of all cultures.'' 
- Wayson Choy, Author

Discussion guide available for download here:



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Directors statement:

Difficulties face us all, especially as teenagers. But there are added burdens for those among us who are the children of immigrant and culturally diverse families. These kids are special and they can play an important role in our society, providing a bridge between North American society and that of their respective ethnicity.

From a very young age I became aware of my unique predicament of living in two distinct cultures. Everyday I crossed an unspoken bridge where the expectations from both societies were often polar opposites. For many years I felt I was the only one balancing this divide, where both worlds were secret and exposing your home life to your friends at school was something to hide. Later in life I realized that this was a very common situation among many of my peers and felt it was important to give voice to these youth and give them a forum to share their stories.

The purpose of this documentary is to underscore the importance of the unique role these youth can play in our society. The hope is to open conversations and prove that these youth can provide a bridge between cultures rather than regarding their situation as a liability. I feel that if they see themselves as disadvantaged they will inadvertently construct walls rather than bridges and the two cultures they straddle will suffer the consequences.
The film can be a stand alone documentary but its main goal is to create opportunities for dialogue in classrooms and beyond. The film is accompanied with a guide for group discussions based on the topics and issues brought up in the film.

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