Happy Birthday Canada!
It’s Canada Day. Canada celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867 when the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick created a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada. Today, I’m missing my home and native land.
Every year since I relocated to San Francisco, then London and currently Jersey, I have returned to Canada. It feels unnatural not to. Moreover, time in Canada is a re-set of my equilibrium as the touchstone that equipped me with a set of values that serve me well.
Egalitarianism where people are deemed equal. All the major cities of Canada have had peaceful marches and gatherings protesting the racial injustice as part of the Black Lives Matter campaign. Unfortunately, Montreal’s protest turned violent. C’est la vie. Viva la difference.
Robin Williams referred to Canada as the ‘attic on top of the party’. The party referring to the country south of the 49thparallel, the USA. When I was a little girl, we’d watch the news from America. I remember when both the Kennedy’s were shot. Then their coffins covered with the American flag being transferred via the train to Arlington Cemetery. People mourned alongside the train routes. Martin Luther King was killed because he had a dream. I remember the protests of the Viet Nam war when many Americans crossed the Canadian border to avoid the draft. I remember Watergate. Protests were rampant in the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. Consequently, the hippie movement burgeoned.
Now as an observer from my quiet little island in the English Channel, I see America is going through another tumultuous time. Where it will end up? Nobody knows.
This time Canada has closed its border.
I loved living in San Francisco. The Bay area was replete with innovative souls from all over the world who moved there to realize the American dream. I was 1 of 1 million Canadians living in California at the time. Schwarzenegger was the controversial Governor. It was a very difficult decision to leave. I left for love. It hurt like hell. I would often daydream about moving back but no more because from my perspective, the party has fizzled.
I’m immersed in British values. I will never acquire the stiff upper lip. I’m too vocal, too Informal. Although Canada has opted for the British standard of spellings for certain words like colour, cheque and favour and I am a dual citizen, I think of myself as Canadian.
Canada shares some holidays with the US. Some are unique to Canada as a former British Colony like Boxing Day and Victoria Day. Interestingly, most of the world doesn’t know that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October.
A cultural mosaic of people and traditions from all over the world, Canada’s values include:
Order & Space where cutting in line, speaking out of turn and shouting are frowned upon.
Individualist yet community-oriented, punctuality … I’m rarely late. It’s rude.
Respect – this trait often manifests itself through politeness, punctuality, tolerance and social order.
Multiculturalism and diversity. You bet! – save the First Nations, Canada developed by welcoming immigrants which means we have great restaurants! Mom loved eating Chinese food. She sure didn’t like me dating my Chinese boyfriend in high school. She referred to Diana Ross & the Supremes as negresses. Japanese were nips. God rest her soul; Mom gave Archie Bunker a run for his money.
Political Correctness is important! – refraining from saying or doing things that exclude, insult or marginalize groups of people.
Regionalism – we Canadians have an affinity to our province or region. I will always refer to myself as a West Coast Girl regardless of my age. British Columbia is unconventional and progressive. I revel in being an outside-the-box thinker. Yet ask a conservative, businessperson from Ontario and they might describe B.C. as the land of fruits and nuts.
We love for the environment. Canadians are campers, hikers, skiers, kayakers, sailors, white water rafters who keenly protect their parks and open spaces.
Oh Canada, my original home and native land. I thank you for the sensibilities you have instilled in me. Happy Birthday!