It is very rare that we take the time throughout the year to truly celebrate our country Canada. It’s not that we are not proud of being Canadian, but it seems we don’t take the time to celebrate it as much as our neighbours to the south.
Except for today, July 1st.
Although this day has also become the NHL Free Agent Frenzy day, there are still many Canadians that go out and celebrate Canada’s Birthday. Whether it be a local town parade in Airdrie, the huge Canada Day Party in Ottawa every year, or the parties in between, Canadians do celebrate.
Maybe some people from other countries don’t exactly know all of Canada. There will always be the stories of some American asking if Canadians live in igloos. But just because some are not aware of everything in Canada, it doesn’t mean we don’t have things to be proud of.
Here are some of the things I’m proud of being a Canadian:
We have great diversity and culture all around Canada. If you travel across the province, or if you meet someone from a different province, you do get a different feel. Things like Saskatchewan Rough Rider football games and how every CFL game no matter who is playing, there will always be a few Rider fans. At the game, the pleasant conversation you can always have with someone from the Maritimes. And how distinct they are. Or the relaxing feel of the West Coast. The true West feel of Alberta. The unique culture and passion of Quebec. You can’t call us “typical Canadians”.
On top of that culture, we are a place where people from other countries have come to make Canada a better place. When I see some of the students from other countries coming to SAIT, or any other post-secondary school in Canada for that matter, having to first learn English, adjust to our culture, and in some cases graduate with honours, I know we are doing something right. This acceptance of other cultures has strengthened us as Canadians. It shows that our reputation is one of safety and acceptance.
Speaking of reputation, that brings us to our reputation as peacekeepers around the world. Canadian solders have had a reputation of being brave and admired by many of the world’s armies. From our contributions to Vimy Ridge in World War I, our involvement in World War II, to Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers have been greatly admired.
Which then leads to how well we travel. Our Canadian Flag is one of great reputation and respect while travelling. It is so good, people from other countries will stitch it on their backpack just to make sure they get treated better. We respect countries, treat people well and are welcomed back. We even are polite when people ask us if we know “Bob from Ontario”. We say “No that’s far from me, I live in Alberta.”
Who can forget the impact on arts and culture? Far beyond music legends like Nickelback Celine Dion, or even Justin Beiber, we have had some amazing musical bands that made it big. Bands like the Tragically Hip, The Barenaked Ladies, April Wine and Rush? How about individual stars like Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Bryan Adams, Neil Young, Oscar Peterson and even Daniel Langois?
And what about our contribution to comedy? Does anyone remember SCTV? If you don’t, you should look it up. That brought us stars like John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, Joe Flaherty. How about stars on Saturday Night Live like Mike Myers, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman and Martin Short? And we certainly cannot have this conversation without William Shatner and Jim Carrey involved.
And we have our inspirational, Michael J. Fox and his battle with Parkinson’s. Bret “Hitman” Hart surviving a stroke. Theoren Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy speaking out against unspeakable horrors. Rick Hanson the Man in Motion, and Terry Fox who ran across Canada for cancer.
I scratched the surface of who we are as Canadians and what we should be proud of. And it goes far beyond Don Cherry, Wayne Gretzky, hockey in general, Tim Horton’s coffee, maple syrup, poutines, and the CN Tower.