Before I moved away from Canada, I hadn't given much thought about what it means to be Canadian nor was I particularly patriotic. When I travelled and responded that I was from Canada when people would ask me where I was from, I got the standard responses "oh, you must like the cold" "do you live in igloos up there?" (from an American)
One thing is clear, people don't know much about Canada, but they seem to like us. The reaction I get when I say that I'm from Canada is always different than when others say they're from the US, Germany, England wherever and they always want to engage me in conversation to hear about what Canada is like, from a Canadian. People are fascinated with Canada and moreover people seem fascinated that a Canadian would want to leave Canada because anything people have heard about It is good, so why would anyone want to leave that frozen enigma?
Most Europeans love Canada because they think it's this great big wilderness (which 80% of it is) in a continent where everyone is packed in pretty tight, they relish the notion that you can drive 8 hours and not see another soul. And though our natural beauty is second to none, there's a lot more to like about Canada and Canadians.
So, if you're going to like us, you may as well have (more) reasons to and learn a little bit more about us. Herewith, some inspiration:
- we don't like Justin Bieber or Avril Lavigne either.
-no, we don't know your friend Tom from Toronto.
- Canada is not a great white tundra. Well, technically it is, but there's a reason 80% of us live within a 2 hour drive of the American border, we don't like the cold either.
- don't worry, we make fun of Americans too.
-it's taken me two years to accept we say "out" and "about" differently. It's not weird, just different.
- the last letter of the alphabet is "zed" we add the "u" to colour, but it's an elevator, not a lift and a truck not a lorry.
- Not all of us speak French. Only about 10% of us do. Yes, they make us all learn it, but how much Spanish or German or whatever language do you remember from school?
- if there's one complaint I've heard about is that when we ask "how are you?" We don't stick around long enough for an answer. So to clarify, "How are you" is a greeting like "hello". When we say it, we don't want to actually engage you in a conversation of what's wrong in your life, we just want to hear "great, how are you?"
- the biggest insult for most Canadians is calling us Americans. Yes, we have a lot of similarities, watch the same tv shows, go shopping there a lot, but don't confuse us for Americans: our political views are extremely different and we don't shoot people nearly as often. But we do lock our doors contrary to what Michael Moore thinks.
-We're an extremely tolerant nation. It could be because we're so young or because we were built on immigration, but one of the things I'm most proud of is how we embrace multi-culturalism. Whether its Chinese writing on signs in Chinatown, or the fact that no matter what language you speak, the government will provide you with an interpreter, we're accommodating. We accept that multi culturalism is a part of our heritage and how we'll grow in the future. I can't can't say the same about Europe.
-Yes, we say "eh" a lot. But each language has its own version of "eh". Just like Americans have their "uh huh", Germans have their "oder" and Italians have their "Ecco" or "Che".
-We're funny. I don't know if anyone has been able to confirm we have the most comedians per capita, but most of the comedians you know and love are from Canada: Jim Carey, Dan ackroyd, Will arnett, John candy, Leslie Nielsen, mike Meyers and Seth Rogen are just some of our funny Canadians.
- we don't vacation in tepees or igloos. Fun fact, I never saw one tepee or igloo in 37 years of living in Canada. I move to Europe and I've seen and heard of many igloos and tepees that you can stay in.
- our policemen don't really dress like the guy on due south. Well, they do, but that's only for special occasions.
-If it wasn't for Canadians, the White House would have been pink (you're welcome America)
- we have the queen of England on our currency but we don't know really know or care why.
- our national animal is the beaver (proof we have a sense of humor)
- we have the biggest coastline in the world, but disney world has more submarines than us. But that's ok, because our neighbours to the south like us and will protect us if we ever need it.
- a knit hat is a touque. Not a beanie.
-The snowmobile, snowblower, trivial pursuit, wonder bra, insulin and basketball were invented by Canadians.
So, happy birthday Canada. It may have taken me half a lifetime and moving away to fully appreciate you, but I'm damn proud to say that I'm from Canada.