Over 2 years ago I posted this ranting on a CBC forum. I believe that it still makes a lot of sense.
So here we go...
On any given day, you can ask any Canadian celebrity on what Canada and being Canadian means. Almost all of them were reading from the same book of peace, love, diversity and socialized medicare.
But all of them miss the point.
This country started out as a cash cow for the ancient tribal empires until more people moved in and slowly displaced the First Nations who were there since Day One.
We did have a bloody history. We had slavery. We had our spats with the ingrates to the South. Had we been more tenacious, the Alamo would be flying the Maple Leaf (or maybe the Fleur-de-lys).
But we prefer our wide open spaces, the freedom to roam and the ability to invent - and re-invent - ourselves.
Sadly, I would hear people take pride in what we're not, as in "We're not as cold-hearted as Americans" or "We have a better health system, not like the Americans". Because for the most part, we have descended from Americans - United Empire Loyalists who believed that Mad King George had the better idea than George Washington or Ben Franklin.
But let's not nitpick over technicalities. Canada is still a young nation... in fact, more of a concept rather than a nation. Canadian is a state of mind, rather than a nationality. The land, like its contemporary society, is a mosaic. Each province and territory is a nation in its own right. We work, create, procreate and sometimes deviate in our own way.
But most of all, we live.
We are humans living in a land that that was cultivated by the First Peoples and bound by Celtic ferocity and tenacity, Gallic pride and joie-de-vivre, Anglo-Saxon resolve and good old American know-how.
Collectively, we can be the mouse that roars, the gentle giant, the silent beacon of hope.
Yet we are not perfect. Our medicare costs money. Some people carry ancient grudges and use our freedom to stoke their fires. And our politicians try to be everything to everyone, satisfying no-one.
But as long as the human species remains flawed and the polar icecaps keep melting, I am and shall always be a Canadian.
I'd like to hear one of our celebrities come up with something better.
Even to this day, I never hyphenate myself: there's no point or logic to hyphenation. A man is either this or that, black or white, alive or dead.
In the end, being a Canadian means simply being, in the here-and-now, in Canada.
Happy Canada Day, Romantic Haters.