Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day: What it means to be Canadian

Like most Canadians I take being Canadian for granted. We're not raised on a diet of patriotism. We don't sing "O Canada" at the start of every day. We simply ARE Canadian, sometimes with apologies, but never with regret. 

I come from a family of immigrants, my sweetie is an immigrant, many of my friends are immigrants, as are my neighbours [note the Canadian spelling]. We're a nation that embraces diversity through a multicultural policy. We are not a melting pot. Our cultures are fused, not melted.

Our revolutions are quiet ones but that doesn't mean we're not passionate.

We can vote freely, without intimidation or violence but we take democracy for granted. Our last federal election recorded the lowest voter turnout in our history. We need to be more vigilant to protect our democracy. Voting is the least we can do. 

Our sweeping generalizations:

  • We don't worry about concealed weapons.
  • If we're sick, we know we can get well without having to sell our home.
  • We can sponsor our partners for immigration, regardless of gender.
  • We can marry the one we love, regardless of gender.
  • We can serve in our military regardless of sexual orientation.
  • We don't have to join the military to get low-cost post-secondary education.
  • As long as we have Qu├ębec we will never be "American"
  • We call our money loonies and toonies, and we don't miss the bills.

As for our stereotypes:

We like beer.

We like hockey. 

We believe in Sasquatch, particularly after beer.

Of course, it's not a perfect place. We don't have hot, sunny beaches in the winter. Because it's Canada Day I'll save my rants for another day.


Please share your stories of what it means to be Canadian.


Jean said...

I am a Canadian that has been living in abroad for the past 9 years. Living as an expat brings new understanding of what it means to be Canadian. Canadians might complain about the taxes they have to pay, or grumble about the cost of living, but living in a country without a social safety net, or free education for everyone, or free medical, or the rule of law, or freedom of religion (or lack of religion!) has made me so much more thankful for what we have in Canada. I would rather deal with the problems that come from living in a society in which people have too many freedoms than the problems that arise from having too few. Happy Canada Day everyone!

Anonymous said...

For me as an immigrant to Canada, I treasure the universal (sort of) medical care. Knowing that if I get sick I won't risk losing my home to pay for care is a huge issue for me. I do worry about the continual erosion of that coverage though. This is something Canadians need to be willing to fight for. It is too important to lose.

I too value living in a multicultural country that does not try to pretend everyone has melted into one homogenous pot.


Great post.

deb at nonna's house said...

Thanks Jean & Jan for sharing your perspectives as expat and immigrant.