Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oh Canada!

It is Canada Day. A day for every Canadian, where ever they be to stand tall, to stand proud, to state with conviction and pride, I am Canadian.

And no... I am not a beer.

And I'm not American either, eh!

That's the thing about we Canadians. We take our nationhood with a grain of barley. We water it down with the sweetness of self-effacing maple sugar and gobble it up in a beaver tail.

I am Canadian. And proud of it! Sure some of my neighbours sit on the ice in the dead of winter, swilling Canadian Club and singing, 'I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok' while dangling a line into the waters below in the hopes of hooking the big one.

And sure, some of my neighbours really do live in igloos and ride dog sleds to school or their high powered Ski-doos if the GST cheques came in on time for them to buy gas.

But most of my neighbours, they're just like me. Living peaceful lives under the sheltering colour of the maple leaf forever. Why, we're so Canadian we need our words to be inclusive! We even put at U in colour so everyone feels included.

That's being Canadian. Thinking of the words we speak to ensure we don't leave anyone out!

In fact, Canadians are so generous and giving by nature that we're willing to let people get on a waiting list to come to this country because, well, we don't want to disappoint anyone now do we? Supposedly, there are 42 million people applying to come to Canada and well, we're the true north strong and free of only 34 million people crowded into a land mass bigger than all of the US of eh! No wait. It's we Canadians who say 'eh!' And we've got lots of room for you too. Welcome. Eh?

Maybe it's because our population density is so spread out we need to add the 'eh' to check whether you can hear us? Compared to the US of A's density of 31.3 people per sq. km. we Canadians have the room to roam across this great land 'cause we're packed in to 3.3 people per sq. km. Only Australia (in the top 6 landmass countries) enjoys a lesser density of population by .6 person per sq. km. and they're no where near as big as us. Why, only Russia has a greater landmass and who would want to live in Russia anyway? (Source)

Have you ever seen .6 of a person?

And that's the thing about we Canadians. We see all of you. And welcome all of you too. We act on the inexplicable. We like people to know they are welcome here, regardless of their place or state of origin. In fact, we even make it easy to become Canadian. You don't have to swear allegiance to our flag. You just have to swear allegiance to our Queen. You know, that lady who wears flowery hats and speaks with an accent and lives across the ocean in a castle. Bet she's never even seen an igloo let alone sipped an ice cold beer on a house that floats like a boat on a lake called Okanagon.

But hey! She's our monarch and where would we be without her head of state signing-off on everything we do.

And that's the thing about being Canadian. We want to grow up and be a big power but we keep looking to the powers that be to approve of what we do.

We Canadians suffer from a lack of confidence. Some call it low-self-esteem in our nationhood.

I call it loyalty -- to the past, to the people's who populated this land when only deer and moose and beaver travelled the rivers and forests. Oh, and the First Nations too.

Why, when you think about it, the Loyalists were the first Canadians to settle here from afar and they held true to their belief, 'Monarchy rules' so firm they wrote into the treaties that the agreements were between the First Nations and the monarchy. Not the Government of Canada. Go figure. eh!

And we seem confused?

We are.

About our nationhood.

But not about the principles upon which we stand. The values which we uphold.

In 2007, The Toronto Star's community editorial board met to talk about (say that aboot) how the newspaper represents the diversity and identity of all cultures in their readership. One member, Winnie Siu who was born in Hong Kong and was brought to Canada as a young girl by her parents, said it best when asked, 'What does being Canadian mean to you?'

She said, that in Canada most people "have the freedom to shape an identity that doesn't have to centre on ethnicity. I haven't felt it necessary, or expected of me, to analyze and explain my cultural or national identity."

And then she added:

"I realize I haven't answered your question at all. Sorry. I racked my brain trying to figure out what it means to me to be Canadian. But it's difficult to attach meaning to something that I just am, or rather, something that my parents decided I would be when they chose Canada to be our home."

"In any case, they chose well." (source)

I have chosen well my Canadian identity. It is not something I need to explain. It is just something I am. Like being a morning person. Or being a writer. Or a woman. I don't need to defend who I am. I need to be who I am.

And in Canada. I am free to be who I am.

I am Canadian and proud of it.

Oh Canada. My home and native land.

Nameste. eh?


Maureen said...

Happy Canada Day! Lots of activity about this on Twitter.

Anonymous said...


nice piece

read mine: WE ARE CANADIAN at:

happy July 1st!


Joyce Wycoff said...

We couldn't ask for a better neighbor!