This Mother’s Day, the Miel Sisters wish to celebrate culturally diverse families in all shapes and forms! Being from Colombia and now living in Canada has made Valeria and Camila all the more aware of the richness each culture brings to the table, but also of the challenges that spice up their day-to-day lives. These designing sisters and inspirational moms share some insight about what makes each culture so special.
You both chose to marry someone from another background, si?
Valeria: I met and fell in love with a French Canadian who also happens to be fluent in Spanish.
Camila: I married a Jewish Anglophone born and bred in Montreal!
What types of challenges have you faced in your relationship given your different cultures?
Valeria: I think the biggest challenge is the different way my husband and I look at education, especially now that we have two school-aged children. Coming from a developing Latin American country, I worry about the public education system, which has a poor performance record in my country. It was a challenge for me to understand the system here and to adapt for the kids. Another little challenge in my married couple is the fact that I come from a more “communal” culture and need “less” alone time than my French Canadian husband. ;)
Valeria with husband Sebastien, son Miguel and daughter Alicia
My biggest challenge as a mom is to make my kids realize how lucky they are to live in a multiracial home with a Spanish-speaking mother and a French-speaking father. My son recently had to do a homework assignment on his parent's country of origin, and he chose to do it on Canada! LOL
Camila: As a couple and a family we haven’t faced any challenges that are out of the ordinary. I think every married couple has to learn effective communication methods to handle difficult times in a healthy way. The important things in life are the same for both of us. That being said, I spend a lot more time with my family (my mom, sister, niece and nephew) than what my husband is used to!
What are the benefits of mixed-raced families for your kids?
Valeria: I believe that growing up in a multilingual home has given my kids a big advantage. They are exposed to different traditions, different music and different food. Plus, they have been travelling to Colombia from a very young age and get to experience my native country from the “locals” point of view.
Camila: Hearing three languages—English, Spanish and French—from birth has given my daughter and her cousins the ability to learn languages very quickly! In my opinion, raising children with cultural differences enhances the level of beauty and perception of the world.
How has this made you a better mom?
Valeria: I have learned to adapt to my new culture, which has made me more versatile and tolerant. I feel this has given me more tools as a mom since I have those from my original background and those from my “new” home.
Camila: Being exposed to new ways of thinking, and learning another culture and religion has been enlightening. I now incorporate various aspects of the Jewish culture into our daily life. It has made me more flexible and patient.
Camila with husband Jeff and daughter Fiona
What is something from your Colombian background you would never give up?
Valeria: The dance parties, some of the food and the music I listened to while growing up.
Camila: Arepas (our traditional corn dish) and dancing!
How has being a Colombian living and working in Montreal influenced your work?
Valeria: It has given me more creativity, made me more aware of my environment and turned me into a fast learner.
Camila: People from Medellin (the industrial centre and second largest city in Colombia) are known to be entrepreneurial and innovative. I think my Colombian heritage has played an important role in developing my entrepreneurial spirit here in Montreal. The cultural diversity has helped me to adjust faster to work challenges.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the sweet mothers around the world!