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My name is Tina Santiago Keenan. I’m a designer and creator. Toronto is my home. I’m a child of the 80s. I grew up with the most kind hearted people I know. I am who I am because of where I’m from, when I was born, and the people who raised me. José Rizal said, “(s)he who does not know how to look back at where (s)he came from will never get to her destination”. Well, here goes…

I was born and raised in North York, just north of Toronto, Canada. I would argue that Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world. I was raised by parents who weren’t from there, and I went to school with kids whose parents weren’t from there. I think, because of this, I learned to carry multiple perspectives. I learned empathy. I acquired a sensitivity to culture that I didn’t quite appreciate until I was much older.

This is a photo of me and Cindy Donna. Behind me, are unopened presents that probably contained a Care Bear, a Rainbow Brite, and a pack of Garbage Patch Kids. I spent most of my childhood playing ‘don’t- touch-the-lava’, exploring Sunnybrook park and making up plays with my cousins, while my parents and aunts and uncles played mah jong. No matter how much I shake it, I will always be a child of the 80s.

​​These were the awkward years. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Sure, a quarter of my class was pregnant by the time I graduated, but math and science were the order of the day. I could solve a quadratic equation like a boss. Without ever knowing what I’d end up doing with my life, I went on to study the brain, narrative structures, html, and business. And I loved every bit of it.

This is my family. They’ve known me for my whole entire life. I don’t think anyone knows me as well as they do. We have our quirks and quarrels, but we’ve all come to accept who we are. Even though we don’t live together, they will always be my original pack.

This was Pinto, our family dog. We lost him earlier this year but he’ll always be in our hearts. He might not have been a humble dog, but he taught me a lot about love and loyalty.

These are my travel buddies. We’ve traveled far and wide. We’ve slept in strange places, took planes, trains and automobiles, but we always ate well – including that time we ran out of water because we used it all on making delicious, salty, MSG-infused ramen. Worth it. We’ve had many adventures together, but we’ve only got started.

This is my husband, Patrick.  He is my partner in crime, my confidant and the leader of my new pack. Together, we get to dream up anything. We get to explore the world and come up with ways to make it better. We get to pursue our achievable dreams, and even the ones that aren’t so achievable. I feel very lucky that we found each other.

This is Christopher. He’s changed my life in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I hope I’ll make him proud.

 

You’ll notice that I’ve only included the good stuff here. I edited out all the crap experiences I’ve had in my life, and there have been a few. I left out all the times I’ve failed, the times I’ve lost and been lost. I didn’t talk about my enemies (I think I have 2). I left out my darkest moments of raging tears and anger.

But that’s what we get to do, isn’t it? We get to tell each other the stories that we tell ourselves.

 

This is a picture of my wedding day. I am who I am because of where I’m from, when I was born, and the people who raised me.