Canada Day is a couple days away and since this is no ordinary Canada Day, but the 150th one, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be Canadian.
Canada Day is not only a day for Canada as a country to come together, celebrate and have fun, but also the day that reminds us about being Canadian. Now that might sound strange, but it’s true. In our day to day lives we don’t really think about how being from a particular country shapes us and influences us; we don’t think about how we are part of a larger national identity. But it’s days like Canada Day that remind us that we are not just individuals, but individuals part of a whole that make a great country. Like all countries we’ve had our moments of shame and our moments of pride. We’ve aided others and been aided ourselves.
I think that being Canadian means different things to different people. To outsiders we are seen as “nice”. Anytime I’ve travelled outside of Canada and people have found out that I am Canadian, the reaction has always been positive. I’ve gotten, “well that explains the accent,” and “no wonder you’re so friendly”. The friendly part is what sticks out to me and it makes me wonder what makes others see us this way? At least enough that they comment on it often.
As an individual, being Canadian means to me that you don’t give up, that you stand by your convictions even when the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy. That you are there when others need you, that you know how to laugh and not hold a grudge. That Hockey isn’t just a season, but a life style. That you know how to dream and create and inspire. That you honor those who came before you, who built your country and that you do your best to teach the next generation how to shape this country into the best it can be.
To others, I know it means that we know how to have fun, that we don’t take ourselves seriously, that we’re the first to laugh at ourselves when we know the rest of the world might be. To fans of Sullivan Productions, who are not Canadian, we are the country that brought you Anne of Green Gables and her intrinsically Canadian identity, that introduced you to the uniquely special world of PEI in Road To Avonlea and showed you what life was like in 1930’s Canada in Wind At My Back.
What it means to be Canadian is different for everyone and not everyone will agree. What I think we can agree on though is that on days like Canada Day we remember what it is this country really means to us. I think this is true for days of national celebration in any country.
What do you think it means to be Canadian?
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