Monday, June 30, 2008

What Makes me Canadian...and proud of it

New and Improved Version: I fixed the links that weren't working before...enjoy!

Happy Birthday Canada

A number of years ago, back in university and anthropology professor assigned us an essay topic: How do you define what it is to be Canadian? Today being Canada Day ( this year we celebrate our 141st anniversary of Confederation), I thought I'd tell you 100 things that make me love being a Canadian. (this might be very difficult) (okay I only made it to 71 (bit over half of 141), but still pretty good.

1) Neil Young is Canadian...and he rocks! I love Neil Young.
2) I have lived literally from coast to coast...I've lived in Newfoundland and all the way to Vancouver Island...and everywhere in between.
3) I moved to Banff right out of high school. Banff is surrounded by the Canadian Rockies and is the iconic (albeit tourist related) "Canadian Wilderness".
4) I can tell the difference between a deer, a caribou, and elk and a moose.
5) I can tell the difference between a black bear and a grizzly and know what to do if I encounter either: Try to slowly back away from both. While doing that talk in a calm smooth voice to the bear. Do not make eye contact. Do not throw your back pack will protect your back/neck/head if you need it. If all else fails play dead and protect your back, neck and head. DO NOT RUN...grizzlies have been clocked doing 50 km/ will not outrun a bear.
Preferable tactic: Do not run into bears. Make lots of noise while hiking, bear bells don't work...and may actually increase your chances of being attacked because the sound makes the bears curious.
6) I know the song formerly known as "the Hockey Night in Canada song" Dun, du, dun, du dah; Dun, du, dun, du dah; dun, du, da, da dada..."etc. (you have to be Canadian to get it)
7) I know what it is like to drive across the prairies, and drive, and drive, and drive ad infinitum.

8) I know the word "Eskimo" is not politically correct...It's "Inuit"
9) I went camping almost every summer as a child. My Dad was a "Dogmaster" with the RCMP, which means he was a police dog handler, and had spent many many hours for years tracking lost people, or people who did not want to be found. He taught us to love and respect the wilderness. These times were some of my happiest.
10) I know that the Europeans called the First Nations People "Indians" because when they landed in Canada they thought they had arrived in India...Duh!
11) I can name all 10 provinces and 3 territories (I actually KNOW we have 3 territories).
12) I have been snowshoeing many, many times as a child.
13) Downhill skiing is a favourite winter pastime for many Canadians...and I'm one of them.
14) I actually understand the rules of Hockey, and the point of the game (I can't say that for any other group sport except maybe water polo)
15) I have participated in that great Canadian coming of age game: "Beer chugging"
16) I know it is pronounced Nefeunland, not NEW FOUND LAND.
17) I know what the Common Wealth is.
18) I love the Queen...even though it is a bunch of pomp and pageantry. I think it's a quaint tradition, and I want to continue participating in that pageantry.
19) Gordon Lightfoot is Canadian...who can beat the iconic "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald as a classic Canadian song. (This video has some great pictures of Canada, its people and the power of the ocean)
20) Joni Mitchell is Canadian. I love Joni Mitchell. I love her song "Big Yellow Taxi" and have been singing it (and can achieve the highs AND lows in the song) and playing it on my guitar for the past few weeks. My Mom used to sing Joni Mitchell's songs to us when we were kids.
22) I know how to survive (and get found) if lost in the woods.
23) Camping is a favourite pass time of mine
24) As is Canoeing
25) I know Canada has more Bald Eagles than the US...Should have been our national symbol
26) Our national symbol is the beaver...almost everyone snickers about that.
27) I have seen the fossils at Drumheller Alberta...a very cool place to visit.
28) Unlike my fellow Ontario countrymen who believe the world revolves around Toronto...I know everyone would rather live in Vancouver...hip, warm, artsy, laid back,tons of beaches, mountains...we have it all.
29) I have seen whirlpools in the ocean big enough to swallow a huge boat.
30) I know what "Skookum" means.
31) I love smoked salmon.
32) I BBQ all year round.
33) I love maple syrup...and use it in everything from salad dressings to marinades and of course on pancakes.
34) I can make a beautiful snow angel.
35) I have seen mosquitoes as big as my hand in Winnipeg, Manitoba (well maybe that's an exaggeration, but they are pretty damn big)
36) I have lived near the Columbia and the Fraser rivers..two of Canada's most famous rivers.
37) I know what the "Great Divide" (or Continental Divide) is. It is a line across Canada where on one side the rivers run towards the Atlantic ocean, and on the other side they run towards the Pacific ocean (no lie)
38) Even though I'm a pacifist, I am proud of our Veterans in World War I and II. My Dad said almost anywhere he went in Europe people spoke fondly of Canadians and their contribution to winning those wars.
39) "Oooh..your Canadian let me help you". Once people in Europe realized I was Canadian and not American..their whole attitude changed; suddenly I became part of the family.
40) I speak "Franglais" a sort of brutalized anglicized version of french. Bonjour Madame parlez-vous English...PLEASE???
41) Despite my difficulties learning French (It is the only course I have ever failed in my entire life...I took it again and passed though). I am glad we have two official languages, and when I've been to Quebec I try really hard to speak French...but I am really bad at it. At least I try.
42) I have built an igloo.
43) I have made and eaten Bannock.
44) I have ice skated on numerous frozen ponds, including one year on the pond on the farm (it is unheard of for it to get cold enough, long enough for that to happen here in Vancouver, but one year it did.
45) I know that what we call a creek in B.C. is actually a "brook" in Newfoundland.
46) I have seen killer whales up close in the wild. They are so beautiful it is indescribable.
47) I love the Vancouver Canucks (even though I'm not a big hockey fan).
48) I know that "football" in Canada is that game where ridiculously huge men bend over a lot and try to do something with a pointed spherical (sort of) shaped ball: A game, the rules of which, only about 100 people in all of Canada understand while the rest pretend to understand.
49) I have been to Magnetic Hill in New's a road where it seems as though you are going uphill, when really you are going downhill. It has some kind of optical illusion properties so if you park in neutral at the foot of the hill your car actually rolls "uphill".
50) I love lobster
51) I've seen many icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland.
52) I have lived in 5 different Provinces.
53) My father is retired from Canada's iconic police force: the RCMP. He was a member for more than 40 years. Three other family members are , or are retired, from in the RCMP. It is a family tradition
54) I skied in the Canadian Rockies many times as a kid...Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise. Great ski hills.
55) You see nature everywhere, even in the city. I saw a coyote cross 57th and Victoria; a very busy major intersection. He looked like he knew exactly what he was doing too.
56) Blueberries in B.C. are on really tall bushes, where the pickers often need to use step stools to reach the top berries. In Ontario and the Maritimes the blueberry bushes are short and you have to bend over to pick them.
57) In one day I can swim in the ocean, sail, go play golf and drive up to the mountains to go skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb...that's how close this city is to everything.
58) If you like to swim outdoors "Kit's Pool" in Vancouver is the longest pool in Canada...137 Metres, and it is a salt water pool.
59) I actually know the words to our national anthem..." O Canada". A huge number of Canadians have no idea...they changed it in the 1970's and it confused everybody.
60) I know all sorts of names for snow: sleet, slush, powder, crunchy, wet, dry, snowstorm, blizzard...the list goes on.
61) I have been caught in a blizzard before, when I was young, 8 or 9. I thought I was going to die. I couldn't see where I was going and it was minus 40.
62) I lived on a farm in the prairies as a child and we had horses, ducks, chickens, geese (all pets of course). We had to hand carry water down to the barn and it was hell in the wintertime, but I still look back at that period of my life and think it was idyllic.
63) I've shot tin cans off the fence with a rifle when I was a kid (under my Dad's careful supervision of course)
64) Hand guns are illegal in Canada...Hallelujah
65) Speaking of which...k.d.lang is Canadian. Her version of "Hallelujah" is awe inspiring.
66) and on that note: Leonard Cohen (who wrote "Hallelujah") is Canadian too. His poetry and his music is haunting. This you tube video of "Suzanne" has subtitles (dutch maybe?)
67) Robertson Davies was Canadian. His book "The Deptford Trilogy" , made up of three books (Fifth Business, The Manticore and World of Wonders), it is a marvel of a book.
68) Margaret Atwood is another great Canadian Writer.
69) as is Rohinton Mistry (while born in Mumbai, India, he immigrated to Canada in 1975). His book: "A Fine Balance" is one of the best books I have ever read.
70) In Canada we have a public medical system. This means we all have access to the health system. While all you ever hear is the negative news about public health care, I have always had the best care and feel blessed to live in a country that cares for its citizens in this way.
71) and finally...I love that Canada has adopted a multicultural approach to its people and its new immigrants and not a melting pot approach. Existing and new Canadians are encouraged to keep there beliefs, and practice their cultural traditions as opposed to being pushed to assimilate into becoming a typical "Canadian". That is the great thing...there is no such thing as a typical Canadian. This is what makes this country so interesting and continually fascinating.

We all came from different places, different backgrounds; some like our first nations people have lived here for centuries, and some of us may have entered this country today. We are a great and fantastically interesting mix of cultures, religions, and peoples who hold one thing dear to our hearts, our freedom and our democracy...and if you ever watched the Canadian parlimentary know how much they fight to ensure democracy sticks around.

I love being a Canadian.

(oh yeah...and # 72..."Canadian Girls Kick Ass"


Dr. Shock said...

Impressive list, we share the love for music by Neil Young, not all his music as far as I am concerned,regards Dr Shock

Polar Bear said...

Cool list!

Makes me sad that I ever left Canada. I spent 1991-1998 in Toronto and loved every bit of all things Canadian.

Jazz said...

Great list, Aqua!

Aqua said...

Thanks for the comments. Where you live P.B. I always assumed was very much like Canada. I sued to work with a bunch of "Kiwis" and they were the most loved people in Banff. We used to always have people coming from other nations to work in the hotels and at the ski hills in the winter...everyone loved New Zealanders. I would love to visit there.