There are many ways Canadians can identify themselves. We have an incredible history as an industrious but slow moving people, hiding beneath the shade of our southern neighbours like the maples beneath the oaks in that Rush song.
Of course, Americans aren’t superior. They’re just louder and more eager to let the rest of the world know exactly who they are and what they stand for. Canadians don’t have much interest in doing that. We know who we are, and we assume nobody else really cares, because why would anybody want to hear from the quiet kid in class?
Canadians are much more than a Tim Hortons commercial will give us credit for. We aren’t all just a caricature of ourselves. We have a serious inferiority complex that I do believe one day we will get over, and probably in my lifetime.
Part of that may stem from the fact that we’re all immigrants. The vast majority of us come from elsewhere on the globe. In that respect, our culture is broken. We’ve moved on and separated from Scotland and England, if you are my family. Others have gotten out of dodge from Italy, Argentina, India and Ukraine, particularly if you live in Saskatchewan, I’ve learned.
We’ve brought aspects of all those origins into Canada, creating something of an Island of Misfit Toys in the Great White North. We aren’t outcasts, most of us are certainly here by choice, but why wouldn’t the German culture, which has been maturing for centuries, be far superior to the one we’ve established of part German, part Korean and part French? I think that question plays into why we often have so little regard for what our fellow Canadians can accomplish.
The French have been doing what they do in France for a thousand years. French Canadians have been doing it here for about 150. There were French settlers here 400 years ago, but for a while I figure they were just being French on this side of the Atlantic. They’ve only been Canadian for 150 years.
We’ve welcomed all the great cultures of the world, thrown them at the wall like we’re trying to see if our spaghetti is cooked, and are now just starting to figure out what exactly has stuck. Canada has been trying to carve out a niche for much less time than other countries have, so maybe that’s where we get our insecurities.
We’re becoming more comfortable in our own skin. I think we require less hand holding from the folks when we cross the street to go talk to China.
We no longer need to shrug off every time another country does something better than we do with a huffy, “Well, let’s see what happens when we meet on the ice.”
That’s right, folks, we don’t need hockey to compete on the world stage anymore. I’m not suggesting we do this, but we can hang up our skates and give hockey to the Americans and the Swedes, and it won’t mean we become irrelevant for all international competition, whether it be recreational, economic or our pure social strength.
Canada may or may not be the best country on the planet, but I certainly don’t want to live anywhere else. I wouldn’t trade Canada for any other country, and on Canada Day, that’s what I’ll be thinking about: how great it is to be Canadian.