Oh to Be Canadian! “Membership” Has its Privileges.

There’s something romantic about being Canadian. We’re a relatively unpopulated, somewhat civilized and clean and resourceful country. I always push the fact that I’m Canadian.

— k.d. Lang

If it matters at all, it’s because we know who we are. I’d never leave Canada. This is my home and I got to be everything I am right here.

— Sarah McLachlan

So this is it… the kick-off to summer! The week of Canada Day! Whether you participate in a big social spectacle on Wednesday, or partake in delicious solitude (as Einstein once said), gardening on your own or reading a good book while eating locally-grown, patriotic-red cherries (like the ones hanging laden off my back garden tree), I’m encouraging you to pause this week and intently acknowledge how fortunate you are to have been born in this country, or to have chosen Canada as your adopted country, especially considering the headlines elsewhere today.

There’s a terrific tongue-in-cheek-book I encourage you to read that will make you laugh about Canada (which is so typical of Canadians—to laugh at ourselves), and even make you go hmmmm, as it shares little known but fascinating facts about our physical land, people, traditions and customs—it’s called How to be a Canadian, by Will and Ian Ferguson. These satirist brothers remind that the main product manufactured in Canada is snow; that our unit of currency is the loonie (because there is a picture of a large, crazed woman on it); and that we have 35 million people, all of whom at some point have had their tongues frozen to a chainlink fence or flagpole! They also share that we have a very big country, but that it’s “considered bad manners to point out to Canadians that, although their country is indeed very large, more than 50% of it is permanently frozen. This is the ‘We burned your fries so we gave you extra’ school of customer satisfaction. As in: ‘Sure, most of your land is an uninhabited frozen wasteland—but you’ve got lots of it!’ Memo from God: I froze half your country, so I gave you extra.” But my favourite tidbit of fascinating dinnertime-conversation-facts is that in Canada “size matters,” and that we are soooo big that the ratio of land to people is something like 100 square miles per person. Now that’s space to grow!

So THIS Canada Day… have a decided glow-in-you-heart thought that YOU belong to Canada and Canada is YOUR country. Membership indeed has its privileges. You know what I mean… that feeling you get when you cross the driven border back into your country? That feeling you get when your plane touches down on Canadian soil after an international flight… even that feeling you may get when you’re still in another land, on your way home, but you feel “I’m home” just by stepping on to one of our nation’s carriers? And since you have 100 Canadian square miles that’s reserved just for YOU ;) go ahead and spread out this Canada! Get out there and enjoy YOUR dedicated space this week, whether on one square mile or kilometre or 100… enjoy this space we call home; Canada. All of Canada is yours, even beyond your personal 100 square. And what the heck, while you’re at it, maybe even get a bit mushy and sentimental and sing O Canada on Wednesday, even if it’s only to yourself. “If a tree falls in the forest does anyone hear?” the old adage goes. If you sing O Canada alone on Wednesday, will anyone hear? Canada will. Go ahead and sing.

My dream is for people around the world to look up and to see Canada like a little jewel sitting at the top of the continent.

— Tommy Douglas

I’ve been a very luck guy. I played on championships teams. I played for Canada. I’ve won some awards and I’m very proud of those accomplishments. But I don’t think there’s anything greater than to come home and to be recognized at home. This is the pinnacle.

— Bobby Orr

It’s wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw.

— Emily Carr

I think every Canadian should have a map of Canada in his or her house. It should be displayed in a place where one can sit and contemplate the wonderful vastness of this land. As Canadians we are continuously groping for an identity and a sense of love for our nation. We grapple with the concept, find it somewhat distasteful and leave it for another day. We find American flag waving, hand over heart while belting out Oh, say, can you see… too much and avoid doing the same. We admire their national spirit, but Canadians are, in contrast, understated. To understand the identity that exists in our hearts think of our sweepingly majestic home, its quiet, serene beauty. A beauty recognizable to us all. We are proud of this nation and of who we are. We just don’t say it. It’s like the map. It just sits there on the wall displaying the lines of our coasts, the bulk of our waterways, and the breadth of our northern territories. Surveying all of this leaves me in awe. It brings a tear to my eye… O Canada…

— Debora O’Neil

In only a century and a quarter since Confederation, Canadians have shaped out of the North American wilderness one of the most privileged societies on the face of the earth. Ranking among the seven most prosperous nations in the world, Canada is rich not only in the abundance of our resources and the magnificence of our land, but also in the diversity and the character of our people. We have long been known as one of the most tolerant, progressive, innovative, caring and peaceful societies in existence.

— The Will of a Nation: Awakening the Canadian Spirit by George Radwanski & Julia

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