They’re a tidy lot, these Canadians.
Or are they? Yesterday, I saw a couple of drivers flick their cigarette butts into the street. At Locarno Beach, I saw plenty of cig butts in the sand.
The inscrutable Canadian. Certainly not American, and not British or French either. The Canadian identity seems wound up in not being The Other. What happens if you stab a Canadian? Does maple syrup come out?
I’ve been here five days. So far, I can’t say anything definitive about Canada that I couldn’t have said after my first visit to Vancouver 30 years ago.
Well, maybe one thing. Wine is very expensive here—even the bad stuff.
Queen Elizabeth II’s face is on the Canadian $20 dollar bill. Canada is not simply a member of the Commonwealth, it is a ‘Commonwealth Realm,’ meaning that QEII is the monarch, or, more officially, “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.” Australia’s version of this is much the same with ‘Australia’ in the place of ‘Canada’ and the God bits taken out.
What would it be like to be born in a country so influenced by other countries? What’s it like to end up in a tradition-laden culture without being sure exactly what came from where, all the while trying to craft something new and whole out of the composite parts?
What is this place like for all the immigrants who have been here for generations, and for those who just arrived? What’s all this like for the indigenous people who were here in the first place?
Vancouver is a very multi-cultural place. I’ve heard at least four different languages on the street (five if you count the English I couldn’t understand until the third sentence). In the Canada Day parade, there were pipers in full Scottish regalia, a group of Bollywood dancers, a Korean contingent, more dancers (this time Chinese), and a group of Croatians. All proud of their heritage, and all fully Canadian.
There was a time in my early twenties when I wanted to be Canadian. After spending 6 years in England, I didn’t feel American enough to want to live in the US, but I knew I wasn’t English enough to stay in the UK long-term. Canada, land of the red leafed flag, appealed to me as a little of both countries and a lot of je ne sais quoi.
It still does.
Thoughts from a Canadian blogger about being Canadian here.