For anyone reading this in another country (or for Canadian readers who didn’t pay attention in history class), today is the birthday of our constitution, the day all the bits and chunks of our young nation were officially glued together. Canada Day is when we became a country, and as I’m a proud Canadian, I thought it appropriate to post something patriotic.
Let’s get the stereotypes out of the way:
1. Yeah, I do say eh, and to other ears, it probably does sound like I say oot and aboot. Whatever. I can live with that.
2. Maple syrup is good, and I’m not just saying that because we produce most of the world’s supply.
3. The moose, the beaver, the loon…all lovely, interesting creatures, although possibly not as majestic as some. Happy to have them on money, t-shirts, etc.
4. Hockey. I know of it. It’s okay. Played it badly in my back yard as a kid.
5. Universal health care and gun control laws. I’m a fan of both.
Now that those are taken care of, I’d like to declare my love for my homeland by pointing out a few other things about Canada, things that don’t come up in casual conversation, but that are nonetheless amazing.
1. We’re new. Relatively speaking, 1867 really wasn’t that long ago, and although there were people here long, long before that, as a collective, we’re still in our infancy. I once talked to someone who was visiting who said she loved Canada because everywhere she went, she could see and feel the progress, the growth. There’s something exhilarating about being part of a work in progress.
2. Our literary canon kicks butt. I’m a little biased as a writer, but I think our wordsmiths, both past and present, are phenomenal, and the work they’ve produced over the past few hundred years is some of the best anywhere, ever. I’m tickled pink that Canadian literature came of age in a time when it was fine for women to write. I also love that Canadian literature is incredibly diverse. We have stories from a million different viewpoints. You can’t even read a cereal box in Canada without being presented with two stories.
3. Yes, it is stupid cold here sometimes, but then it isn’t. Bellyaching about winter weather is pretty much a national pastime, but we also get to experience the euphoria of spring. When the sun comes back and all the snow turns to mud and itty bitty grass, I can literally hear the first movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in my head. You don’t get that when you live somewhere with steady climate conditions.
4. We’re funny. I mean, really funny. I can pick out TV shows and movies with Canadian writers and actors. There’s an ethos to Canadian humour, something about being a little bit sarcastic, a little bit self-deprecating, and a little bit corny, that calls to Canucks like me. Yeah, we’re fairly nice, but we’re not afraid to take a shot at ourselves and others either, and surprisingly, even the goofier end of the Canadian comedic spectrum still has something witty about it. I have fond memories of annoying dinner guests with my sister by reciting lines from Bob and Doug McKenzie, and then years later, using Strange Brew to help me teach Hamlet to high school kids.
5. All the silly stereotypes about us seem to be pretty benign. I’m okay with people thinking that we’re overly polite. It’s kind of charming when people ask if you know someone who lives a four hour plane ride away, on the other side of the country. Mounties do look pretty cool in their uniforms, and we really do have beautiful forests here . The beer-drinking, donut and Kraft Dinner munching cliches don’t bother me much. Hey, even the term “hoser”, at one point meant to be derogatory, just refers to the poor, but helpful soul who waters down the ice after a hockey game. I’m not sure what we did to have this reputation for being nice, but I hope we endeavour to live up to it.
I’m off to beam with northern pride. Happy Canada Day, everyone!