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Sean Mitton Canadian Expat Network Founder
(Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)
Sean Mitton Canadian Expat Network Founder (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

Canadian Expat Network in the News

By Sharon Lem, Toronto Sun
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Back bacon, poutine and real beer

How Canadians in the U.S. will be celebrating nation's birthday

Shawn Danko will be barbecuing Montreal steamies, frying Canadian back bacon, serving poutine and putting Labatt Blue on tap at his Memphis restaurant.

Jeremy Eves will be attending a Canada Day banquet at the Canadian consulate in Houston.

And Sean Mitton will be raising a glass to toast Canada's birthday from a Canadian-owned bar in Raleigh, N.C.

Although the trio live in the southern United States, they're devoted and proud Canadians who will celebrate Canada's 143rd birthday regardless of where they live.

Danko, who hails from Montreal, moved stateside a decade ago for a job. In 2005, he decided to branch out on his own and opened a restaurant and bar named the Kooky Canuck.

"I'm expecting 300 people to come celebrate Canada's birthday. It's very important to me because I'm Canadian and since I won't get to spend it with my family back home, I like to do something special each year in Memphis to make it feel like home," Danko says, adding he hired Canadian singer Val Halla to perform at the party.

Danko, 41, who lives in Memphis with wife Lana and daughter Alexa, 14, says he misses public transportation, the wide variety of ethnic foods and the clothes shopping.

Jeremy Eves, 35, of Chatham, moved to Houston three years ago with his wife, Claire. They now have a two-year-old daughter, Luca.

"I think it's very important to stay in touch with other Canadians living outside of Canada," says Eves, who formed the Canadian Club of Houston, which has 1,000 members. "We need to maintain and connect to people you're familiar with, and get together to share ideas and have a connection to home. It especially helps when you're homesick."

Whenever Sean Mitton misses Canada, he just clicks onto the website he created three years ago to connect with fellow Canucks who live abroad (canadianexpatnetwork.com).

The 41-year-old Georgetown native, who moved to Raleigh in 1999 as part of the technology boom, estimates there are 2 million Canadians living in the U.S. and 750,000 living elsewhere in the world. Citizenship and Immigration Canada says it does not track the figures since Canadians can go into most countries without a visa for up to six months.

Mitton says he when he first arrived in America, he knew nothing about expatriate issues such as banking, health care and green card and visa issues.

"On my website, I try to help fellow Canadians who have moved to the U.S. learn about cross-border tax planning, how to file your taxes in terms of financial planning and how to maximize that," Mitton says.

"When you move to another country and you don't have an existing network of friends to help, it's nice to connect with Canadians who have a common heritage and culture and who are supportive and help each other out," he says.

Mitton started celebrating early, joining a pre-Canada Day party with Ottawa native Kim Macies, 42, who moved to Fayetteville, N.C., to be with her American husband.

"I see myself as an ambassador for Canada," Macies says. "I've been hosting a big Canada Day party each year and I put photos up … of Don Cherry, Mike Myers, Donald Sutherland and Stephen Harper and asked my American friends to name the prime minister and they all said it was Don Cherry.

"It's a whole different culture especially down in the South," Macies says. "I do believe Canadians did it right with multiculturalism and we embrace diversity. It's not that way everywhere you go in the U.S."

Our multiculturalism isn't the only thing Macies longs for stateside.

"I do miss the convenience of Tim Hortons, the people knowing what I'm talking about when I want Smarties, an Aero bar, a beavertail, hockey or skating on the Rideau Canal," she says.


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