Monday, 30 May 2016

I Would Be: ISU Blog Post

What could I have been?
Shedding light on the the place I came from

I had never really looked into my past before this project, my immediate family doesn't practice any religions, and my grandparents are either deceased or too far away for me to have a close relationship with them. However as I began looking into my heritage, I learned that my paternal side came to Canada from Britain, and my maternal grandfather came all the way from Sri Lanka. 

Personally, Since I don't remember any of my Sri Lankan ancestors, I identify much more with my British origins, so I will be focusing my attention onto my European roots.

Above: A map of the united Kingdom containing England, Scotland, Whales and Northern Ireland 
During a conversation with my father, he revealed to me that his ancestors came from somewhere in the United Kingdom, although he doesn't know the exact location. However, looking into my surname "Allen" I can tell that it comes from two places: Ireland and England. England is the most likely place of origin, based off my father's initial guess and that my last name uses the English spelling "Allen", instead of the Scottish spelling: "Allan" (Ancestry). My father also mentions that it was my great-great-grandfather or my great-great-great-grandfather who were the ones who immigrated. Because of this, I can assume that the migration happened at some point in the later half of the 18th century.

My father was unable to recall the reasons that motivated my ancestors to move, but some can be inferred based on the time period. Late 19th century England was a peaceful time, and England was still above most of the world in their industrial revolution. However, because of the country's rising population and shift to massive cities over scattered towns. A lower class worker could find themselves unemployed, with a food shortage, and with no land to live on. Plus with the easier and cheaper transportation, it was much a much more reasonable decision to emigrate out of the country (BPSHistory). Another push factor that may be relevant is the Irish potato famine of which occurred from 1845-1861 (HistoryPlace). If my ancestors had been Irish after all, this would be a strong motivator for them to leave the country. Some examples of things that pulled people to North America would have been the great availability of jobs and land, as well as the freedom to pursue ones dreams in a democratic society.

Canada and England share much of the same western culture, but there are many differences. If my ancestors had never immigrated, my life would be changed in quite a few ways.

If I was a citizen of England, it would be somewhat less likely for me to be employed than it is in Canada. Male youth (15-24 years of age) employment is 76.7% in the UK, but about 85% in Canada. Overall the unemployment rate for both genders is 79.1% in the UK, and 86.5 in Canada. For adults, the UK's employment rate is 94.6% to Canada's 93.1%, so it would be more likely for me to land a job as an adult (World Factbook).

The government of the Canada spends 5.3% of their GDP on education, with a GDP of 1.6 trillion us dollars that would be around 86 billion spent on education. The United Kingdom spends 6% of their 2.6 trillion us dollar GDP on education, which works out to around 137 billion towards education (World Factbook). However the United Kingdom has about double the population of Canada: 64 Million vs 35 Million (WorldBank) so the Canadian Government would have spent more per person. Another interesting thing to note is that English school only continues to the age of 16, compared to Canada's 17/18 , so if I was in England this would be my last school year.

Canada also spends a fair amount more of their GDP on healthcare than the United Kingdom does. 10.9%  of Canada's GDP is put towards healthcare, placing them 15th in the world when it comes to healthcare. The United Kingdom spends 9.1% of GDP on healthcare which, although very much in the same ballpark, it ranks them 30th overall in the world (World Factbook). Also, similarly to Canada, the United Kingdom  provides "free healthcare" or available healthcare that is covered by general taxation.

Both England and Canada are considered modern, safe, progressive first world countries, and they have laws in place that support that ideal. Thanks to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and English common law, both countries support the basic human rights inside their laws. In both countries a citizen is free to practice any religion, speak their minds, associate with whomever they choose and vote for a prime minister to govern them (Justice). Both countries strive to protect their citizens, and stop discrimination, censorship and inequality.

Overall England or the larger United Kingdom are currently excellent places to live, on the same level or above the society in Canada. If my ancestors had never immigrated Canada, I'm sure my life in England would still be good, but I'm glad I am a part of the culture that I've gotten used to, and that my ancestors had the chance to escape the overcrowded England to follow their dreams.

Works Cited
Allen, Steve. Personal interview. 18 May 2016.
“Allen Name Meaning.” Anscestry. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.
“Irish Potato Famine.” The History Place. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.
“Population, Total.” The World Bank. IBRD, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.
“Rights and Freedoms in Canada.” Department of Justice. Government of Canada, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.
“UK Location Map.” UKMap., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.
“Unit 1- Immigration in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century.” Department of History and Social Studies. Boston Public Schools, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.
“The World Factbook.” Central Intelligence Agency. United States Government, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.

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