… “Damn, right …”, I say.
Many, many years ago, a cousin of mine who just moved to Canada was given a homework assignment. He couldn’t quite grasp the concept so he called me for some help. His assignment … to write an essay presenting the “Canadian Identity”.
Admittedy, I had to rack my brains a bit. I could barely describe myself, let alone speak on a nation. However, I managed to draw inspiration from my travels. When travelling in the states, as welcoming as I’d like to think they were, there was a distinct feeling that you were an outsider. Sometimes, I would feel like I was not guest, but still a second class citizen ‘lucky’ … nay, ‘honoured’ to be given the privilege to grace the great “land of the free and the home of the brave”.
I then recalled anywhere I went outside of the states, I was accepted with open arms just because I was Canadian; a luxury, I had witnessed, not always offered to our North American counterparts. All too many of my friends have echoed the same. Yes, I will attest I have seen, first hand, people actively screwing over the Americans in their travels.
So, I could only come to describe the identity of Canada, as that of what is not the United States of America. For years, I have kept that thought in my mind. Waiting for the day I could sit back and proudly say it … Well … it’s happened.
Before you go thinking this is a us against US thing, I assure you, it’s not. You walk around VanCity and you’re bound to run see Chinese ex-pat’s. Yes, a vibrant Chinese community thrives in Vancouver. And immediately after the opening ceremonies, the oft-heard phrase, “Meh, it was no Beijing” rang in my ears everywhere I went.
Yes, you’re absolute right. It was not Beijing. We did not attempt to wow the world with grand gestures. We did not make it our goal to out-do everyone else to date. We didn’t have the pretty little girl lip-sync because she looked better than the other one who sung the song.
No. We set out to say, “Hello, world. This is Canada, and you are most welcome.”. And we did it with a fat guy, who after he introduced and defined for the world what Canada is, left you all thinking the same thing … “Was that really his chin, or was that a racoon wrapped around his neck?”
… our fireworks were real.
Is this a smug way or saying that we’re better? Heck no. That wouldn’t be very Canadian. In fact, I’m not even trying to say to be Canadian is to be not American. But, to be Canadian, is to be oneself.
If anything, we have proven to the world that we need not prove anything at all. We are like no other, nor should we be.
Go, Canada, Go … eh!