This weekend we celebrate the 145th birthday or our great nation of Canada. We’ve come a long way kids! A recent survey by Ipsos-Reid leading up the festivities and reported by The Province newspaper. (Click here to read the story) explains how Canadians are growing prouder of our patriotism.
For some reason this is surprising to many people as historically we have been a nation in the shadow of our American neighbours to the south. Personally, I find it surprising that our patriotism surprises ourselves as a nation. For at least the past two decades we have been raised on stories of the greatest of Canada. Governments and policies aside, we are pretty awesome.
Looking back it is easy to pinpoint hundreds of people and moments that have all contributed to this revival of Canadian patriotism. The 1990s were the era when Canada was a global force for peacekeeping. Missions in Somalia, Haiti, Croatia, Bosnia and Rwanda saturated us with images of heroic Canadians in blue helmets standing up for our national ideals. I remember meeting Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, the commanding officer from the Rwandan mission, in 2005 during a speaking tour for his book Shake Hands with the Devil. He is a remarkable man who came to embody the Canadian belief of promoting peace and equality in the world.
The world is full of extraordinary Canadian ambassadors, such as Michael J. Fox. Not only is he responsible for protecting the Time-Space Continuum in a Delorean, but he is also an advocate for Parkinson’s disease. I will always remember when he disclosed his condition publicly in the late 1990s. He appeared on the David Letterman show and when asked how he managed his disease, as a true Canadian, he simply stated, “I don’t ask for a lighter load, I just ask for broader shoulders.”
When the United States locked down its borders in the wake of September 11, thousands of travelers were welcomed with open arms in towns across Canada and provided with hospitality becoming of our good nature. Ever since, Anti-Americanism as a form of Canadian patriotism has waned. We stand stronger than before and have less need of bullying our American cousins in order to make us feel important. However, this does not mean we cannot still be proud of our assertion during the War of 1812 that we are unique and independent of the United States. Even after two hundred years, we are still pleased by the fact that we burned down the White House.
Culturally we have slowly embraced our identity in these past two decades to the point that it we swell with pride when reminded. Think back to the first time you saw the Molson Canadian I Am Canadian commercial. Often parodied since, it is still a cultural touchstone that evokes pride in all of us. Similarly, at the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, poet Shane Koyczan defined a Canadian identity of self-confidence and hope through his poem We Are More. It is hard not to get choked up when listening.
There are many more moments that have cultivated this newfound patriotism. There is a new generation of Canadians who will grow to have it embedded in them and who will not understand how it is that such a great country full of great people could have ever doubted themselves as much as we did.
As we sit mired in wars and struggles against our governments, it is important to remember that these things do not define us. We are a nation full of heart. We have always been at our best, and achieved the most when we have acted from our heart. Canada Day isn’t just about celebrating significant Canadians, wearing red and white, or fireworks. Canada Day is about reminding us all of who we are inside and reminding us to get back in touch with the heart of our nation in order to make our patriotism a potent force of change within and without.
To feel inspired and maybe have a laugh, view the following YouTube links:
We Are More – Live Performance by Shane Koyczan during the 2010 Winter Olympics http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5-q6S8qJMQ
Proud to be Canadian Anthem http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWDXE9Pbjic
The War of 1812 Canadian Edition http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVC677-YmfM&feature=related
I Am Canadian (the classic) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRI-A3vakVg
Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV_041oYDjg&feature=related