Monday, April 27, 2009
What it means to be Canadians.
For a country as large as we are, you would think we'd be in the news all the time. Not so much. Most people around the world know us as "that country that's above America and is really, really cold". Well, we are above America, and it is cold here in the winter, but what else is there? What makes Canada unique?
I have heard people say that we are an extension of the United States with a different flag. This is not so. A comparison would be to say New Zealand is an extension of Australia, or Scotland a copy of Britain, with a stronger accent. I'm sure all parties would disagree, and some would be down right upset.
So what makes a Canadian?
Well, the first and most obvious would be our deep, ingrained love of the good old hockey game. We stand outdoors in the frigid -40 C temperatures to cheer on our favourite neighbourhood teams. We learn to skate as small children, with the assumption that someday we will play, or at the very least be a voice in the bleachers. When the NHL playoffs are on, the streets in rural Canada are empty and you can hear the cheers and the disappointments ringing across the night sky.
We are outdoors people. We fish, we hunt, and we drive anything with wheels across the forested landscape and consider it time well spent. I learned to drive off-road all-terrain vehicles before I had a licence. A day spent splashing through the mud and sliding around corners would be heaven.
A typical Saturday night involves tailgate parties, a fire, and someones beat-up acoustic guitar. We don't make trouble. It's a good time.
In a typical Canadian city, culture is a mixing pot of language, arts, international food, and business. We invite anyone who wants to be here, and they bring their culture and way of life with them. We do not believe this makes us less, but more. We have some of the best musicians in the world: The tragically Hip, Great Big Sea, Barenaked Ladies, I Mother Earth, Shania Twain, and the list goes on. We have some of the most recognized actors as well. Names like Jim Carrey, Howie Mandell, and Donald Sutherland come to mind. We make fabulous, award winning movies that get little recognition in main stream cinema, which is a shame.
People sometimes make jokes about the size of our armed forces... which I don't understand. Why would living in a peaceful nation with little need for aggression be something to be ashamed of? I'm not. Instead of maintaining an expensive military, we invest in our future, and our resources. Our soldiers are called Peacekeepers, because that is what we do.
We have one of the most diverse climates in the world. We have rainforests, prairies, arctic tundra, and some of the most fertile farming land on earth.
We do not live in igloos, our Northern Peoples are not called Eskimo, they are Inuit.
We do not ride horses to work, nor do we take our dog sleds.
Our Parliament buildings are not made out of ice. They are masterpieces of stone and mortar.
We have four seasons here, and it gets VERY hot in the summer. There is even summer in the Arctic, although it is shorter.
We do not live in the shadow of the United States, we cast a big enough shadow for ourselves.
We do not hate Americans, we actually enjoy a close economic relationship with them and are happy being neighbours. Plus, they have great restaurants like the Olive Garden, and Cracker Barrel... what's not to love?
We take our coffee VERY seriously!
We are Canadians and we are proud!