It's Canada Day. I love where I live. I love that I was fortunate enough to be born in a country with infrastructure like schools and hospitals, roads and rules. I like the structures of my country that allow me freedom of religion, political views and even lack thereof. When I think of Canada, I think of all the cliches that I absolutely love. A country filled with canoe paddling, sled dog mushing, lumberjacks. Animals like beavers and moose and bear confidently strolling in and out of our yards like domesticated dogs. The scent of maple syrup in the air and an unfailing politeness that marks us as Canadian even overseas. And while some of these may or may not be the case, it is a country that has brought forth the Biebs, Jim Carrey, Pam Anderson, and Mike Myers. But more lovely are those Canadians who have stayed home. Like Rick Mercer. Brett Wilson. Robert Munch. Dan and Jay of TSN.ca. Scratch that. Those guys are dead to me.
I love the CFL. The Riders. Don't tell my husband but I do love the Leafs. And the Canadiens. Love Much Music and being a small enough country that when a friend's dear daughter is in the running for VJay, we all rally to try and make her dream come true. I love the sound of a CN train rumbling by on a prairie night. I admire farmers who spend sun up till sundown on a combine harvesting grains that a whole segment of society has now deemed "evil". I love Tim Horton's coffee and a maple dip donut. I like that our country is too big to have a "national" food but is more regionally represented by salmon on the west coast, beef from Alberta, prairie grains, Ontario wines, Quebec poutine, and the vast array of lobster and shellfish from the Maritimes. I love that when you ask a Canadian where their family is from, they tell you the country they originated from, not a state on the east coast like our southern neighbours.
I love the beauty and emergence of First Nations people. Their art and their culture in the midst of their struggles. I long to really be known as "Idle No More" in its grassroots movement to protect our environment, particularly our waters. I love the Mennonite cultures that still live communally and weave their lives in and out of ours here on the prairie almost seamlessly. I love the new Canadian families around my city, challenging us to learn about ourselves and others. I love the emergence of African, Iranian, Halal and kosher stores popping up in our city. I love the culture of diversity as a mosaic, not a melting pot, in which cultures and languages and traditions are accepted and valued, not seen as threatening or exclusive.
I love our national sport in all its forms from Timbits to the NHL. I love the rink and the atmosphere and the sound of skates on ice. I love our national anthem in English and en francais. I love that it still plays in the halls of our schools each morning. I love our athletes and the Olympic games and seeing the unity among our teams. I always think our uniforms are the most beautiful and classic and I am glad there is always at least three to five great options for worthy flag bearers. I especially love to watch our national women's team win hockey gold.
I love Canadian television. The CBC. The way you can pick out a made in Canada movie by the landmarks and the fact that your second cousin twice removed was on set and gave you the whole story over an October Thanksgiving dinner. I loved Mr. Dress Up and especially the "heritage minutes" that taught us our own history and that the smell of burnt toast may be symptomatic of an epileptic seizure.
I love the idea of Canada. I love that most Canadians do our best to live up to the freedoms we've been given by expressing ourselves - for better, for worse. We'll take the worse for often it shapes us to be better, if only by deterring us from sinking to that level.
I love my country, most of all, because wherever I travel, no matter how beautiful or inviting, I've yet to find a place that compares to the beautiful place I call home.
Happy Canada Day.