As many people know, this past Saturday July 1st, was Canada’s 150th birthday, and boy was I glad to be home for it. The country celebrated with parties nation wide. Concerts, fireworks, parades and fairs. No expense was spared for this great celebration. However, compared to where I’ve been living for the past year, Canada is still a very young country; however, it is steeped in history and tradition.
Vast in landscape from the rockies to the plains, from the Arctic to the Maritimes, and then metropolitan cities filling the country in between- it truly is a beautiful country to explore and see. The people are as friendly as the stereotypes describe. You will never feel unwelcome, you will always find a helping hand, and a friendly smile who will hold a door open for you, even when you are still 20ft away.
As Canadians, we enjoy and take advantage of many privileges. We can travel easily and safely in many countries around the world, we have a health care system that takes care of us (and is not up for debate wether it is a right or not- because it is, end of story), we have equal opportunities for wealth, happiness and prosperity, a democratic government where we have the right to vote for our representation. We have education- in fact, we became the most educated country in the world with 56% of citizens having a form of a post-secondary education. We have access to safe drinking water, food, and support.
Of course, Canada hasn’t always had it’s shinning reputation. Out history with our indigenous people is not perfect. We mistreated them in so many ways, and took advantage of the land and rituals they had already established before we even settled here. As Canada enters it’s next phase of life, governments have began to make reconciliation a priority- because this is who we are. When we make a mistake, or a big one at that- we own up to it, and try to make it right.
Never before this year, I have been so proud and honoured to wear the maple leaf on my back. As I lived away from my home country for the year, I found myself grasping on to the little things that make me feel Canadian while being abroad, and this was much easier than I thought as every time I made a new none Canadian friend, I got a lot of questions about stereotypes:
- Do you always drink Tim Hortons?- Yes
- Say “about” for me!- Fine
- Do you play hockey too?- Yes
- How cold is it in Canada?- Very cold, but only in the winter, which is about 5-6 months give or take
- Say “about” again!- Do I have to?
- Have you ever seen a polar bear?- Only at the zoo
- Your Prime Minister is so hot!- Meh not my type
- Do you say eh all the time?- I do say it a lot eh?
- You guys are representing how the world should be!- Yep
- What do you think of the states and Trump since they are your neighbours?- The same thing the rest of the world is thinking.
- Just one more time, say “about” for me?- NOOOO
These stereotypes are always good for a laugh, but it’s also what that maple leaf means to others around the world. Someone knowing I am Canadian perceives me as kind, helpful, welcoming, tolerant, humble, modest, and fun. The maple leaf puts them at ease because they know that Canadians don’t normally have a hidden agenda, they are your plain and simple, straight up, kind and accepting human being.
I had fun celebrating wit my family and fellow Canadians over the weekend, watching fireworks, dancing, swimming and eating good food. I watched the parade go through my town- waving my flag that was attached to my hockey stick. As always I got eaten alive by mosquitoes, but wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Happy 150th Birthday Canada- you shine brighter every year.
Want to get a small taste of Canada, check out this video from 2010 and an NBC broadcaster explains Canada to Americans.
***All illusions by Alexandra Finkeldey, instagram: scatterbee***