September 15 marks the 20th anniversary of my move from Scotland to Canada. Three days after that one of the most important events in recent Scottish history takes place and, because of my choice of two decades ago, I won’t be able to be a part of it. Of course, I’m talking about the independence referendum taking place on September 18. Although I would like to have been able to vote in something like this, I realise that having left so long ago I really counted myself out of the vote.
Growing up in Orkney, the thought of an independent Scotland was almost a pipe dream. Nationalists were seen as dreamers at best, or a little disturbed at worst. But that was in the 1970’s! I was back in Scotland recently for the first time in five years and I was surprised to see how much momentum has grown in the independence movement. It’s really hard to predict which way the vote will go, which wouldn’t have been the case on my last visit, never mind when I left in 1994.
I have my own views on the question of Scottish independence, but they are mixed. My heart says one thing and my head says another. I have a number of family members and friends who are on opposite sides of the issue. I hope that once the vote is over and the dust has settled that the family ties and friendships are still intact. Such issues can be very divisive and can lead to splits that take a long time to be repaired, if ever fully.
With the news over here picking up more of the coverage of the referendum, people have started asking me more regularly what my own views are. I usually say that it could be a good or bad thing, but that I am so far removed now that I have lost touch a bit with what the real Scottish picture is now. It is honestly hard for me to come down on one side as opposed to the other, but then I don’t really have to.
When the votes are counted and the result is in I will still be a Canadian, but will I still be also a British citizen? Or will I have to apply for Scottish citizenship, if I am even still deemed eligible? One thing that is sure – the next couple of weeks are going to be very interesting and I look forward to watching on from afar.