I am Canadian.
I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, nearly 24 years ago, and I’ve grown up in Ontario. Up until last September, I lived in the same house, with my 2 parents, a younger sister, and cats.
I grew up in an attached semi, which means that our house has one attached to it on one side, and is open on the other. That’s the standard for my neighbourhood, or at least it was before the newest developments went in. That’s a rant for another time.
The seasons were marked by activities: summer had softball and playing in the parks with friends; fall was the start of school and playing with schoolmates; winter involved tobogganing, skating, snowball fights and drinking hot chocolate; the spring had playing in puddles, waiting for the snow to melt, and, usually around Easter time, skipping rope in the street.
In the summer, we have Canada Day. My family and I used to go down to the local fireworks; as I’ve gotten older, I typically do whatever appeals to me out of the various plans my friends make. I try to wear red and white if I can, and I’ll feel a sense of contentment watching the fireworks and hanging out with my friends.
I’ve never been much of an Olympics-watcher; I’ve never been a huge athletics person, and since the coverage is so all over the place without really any direction from me, it’s hard to focus on the sports I might want to see. Every now and then, however, I get sucked in; many years ago, I remember watching the women compete in the synchronized swimming competition in Atlanta, and admiring the red and white motif costumes they wore and the fact that they worked three different maple leafs into their performance. It was quite something, and I felt it was more appropriate than the Americans, who wore purple costumes with giant sparkly treble clefs on it. The Americans took the gold, which many of us felt was a total rip.
I remember sitting in my grandparents’ basement, watching the competition as my parents and sister were over watching the tattoo. My friend was marching in it, and she was busy with her own friends, so I felt totally isolated and just wanted to be home. Dad drove me — out of the way — back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house before rejoining everyone else. This was back when Grandma was still alive.
I have very few Olympics-related memories. The names of athletes and their medals don’t stay with me, I must admit. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a bit more into the whole thing. I’ve always had a thrill of national pride when I’d hear of one of our athletes winning a medal, or doing well for whatever reason. The CBC has been helping to foster this the last while, profiling athletes each day (including one hot rower from Carleton Place, yummy). One or two advantages come with being at work at 6:30 and watching CBC for half the day.
Anyhow, I think I’m a fairly typical Canadian; I’m not in-your-face with my patriotism or pride, but I love my country. I’d love to visit other nations, but I can’t really imagine living anywhere else. I’m very Eastern in my roots, so my Canada is the aboreal forests of Ontario and Quebec and the red roads, rocky shores, salty waters and forests of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. My Canada is French and English. My Canada is white, black, brown, yellow and everything in-between. My Canada is gay and straight, liberal and conservative, male and female.
I’m Canadian. I may not say it loudly, or often, or shove it in people’s faces, but it’s who I am, and I like that. I’m proud of my Canadian identity, and all it entails, for better or worse. I feel secure in my identity, and who knows? Maybe that’s a big reason why I don’t have to wave it around. But if I ever get the chance to travel overseas, you’d better believe the maple leaf will appear on my backpacks. 🙂
My Canadian identity may not be big and bold, it may not be easily identifiable or even particularly admired by everyone else, but it’s mine and I love it. And sometimes, like when I’m watching Canadian athletes following behind our flag, full of hope and sporting excited, shiny, happy faces, I’m reminded of that.