It’s Canada Day my darlings, and what better way to celebrate than to wear our beautiful red and white fur bikinis and wax philosophic about what a great country we live in? How about a little chest thumping and fist pumping to good old, “Oh Canada“?
Apparently, for the Globe and Mail, it’s a good time to print sarcastically witty columns about why Canada sucks, and columns of cool praise about how far we’ve come as a nation. Today I thought about skipping a Canada Day blog, but after reading the Focus section of the Globe and Mail, I thought I had some pretty important things to say.
I’m not going to get into the issues about native land, and how, when the country was colonized so were other races of people. That’s a matter that many other nations face as well, and it’s not pretty, nor can I intelligently speak about such a vast subject in this post.
Canada is one of, if not the most multicultural country in the world. Our very economic survival depends on a thriving immigration strategy and the willingness of other human beings to leave their countries of origin to emigrate. I happen to live and work in one the most multicultural areas of this great country.
As a white, English-speaking female, I am considered a minority. I am more likely to hear Portuguese,Polish, Italian or Punjabi spoken at the grocery store than I am to hear English or French. We have entire regional government strategies to cater to this new, and thriving population. It has been my experience that some of the most kind, intelligent people I meet are new to Canada or are the first generation of their family born here.
I have also met a slew of real arse-holes. Where else in the world would people come from war-torn, misogynist and religiously persecuted countries and think that it made any sense to insult the country to which they fled? I have been told that Canadians are ignorant, have no culture, and that our politics are corrupt. I can give a bit about the politics, but considering most came from dictatorships or countries where religion and politics are braided as tightly as Anne of Green Gables’s hair, I just can’t swallow that load of garbage either.
No culture? Really? It is our very culture that has made us an attractive nation in which to seek refuge. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not perfect. No country is without flaws. I vote far left, and am sickened by our political apathy. We’re apathetic for a reason though – because we’ve had it pretty darn good for a long time. You’re right, if we don’t start to change and push for the values and social justice of the now-famous 99%, we’re in big trouble. Our ability to separate religion from politics has kept us alive and well and, I believe that separation has stopped us committing genocide in the streets like we see happening around the globe.
In the autumn of last year I was standing in line at a Service Ontario office to renew my health card and driver’s license. How lucky am I to live in a country where, because I am a citizen, I have my health care costs covered? There were about half a dozen people ahead of me, and the line-up was growing behind me.
At one of the kiosks, a young man, perhaps 5-10 years my junior started to raise his voice. His rant went something like this, “F-this! F-this! I had my f-ing license suspended! F-ing cops!”. The flavour of his rant stayed the same until my number was called, and oh-wouldn’t-you-know-it-lucky-me, I was called to the kiosk next to his. I handed over my paperwork for renewal. I was already slightly perturbed at this fellow next to me for being such a loud and obnoxious douche-bag, but carried on minding my own business. Until, in a raised voice, he said, “How much?! I hate this f-ing country! It’s all about f-ing money!”
I did not turn to him and whisper, or put my fingertips to my mouth in shocked horror. I turned to him; blonde, female, English-speaking and put one hand on my hip and used my other hand to gesture ( I think I might have some Italian in me), and said just as loudly as I could, “Excuse me?” I was surprised at how angry I was. How dare he insult this country, my country, my Canada?
Mr. Whatever-his-name-was turned and looked me in the eye. Apparently women who speak up scare the heck out of integrity-midgets like this guy. His mouth opened, but no sound came out. The room, fell silent. My heart was pounding, and it was all I could do not to kick him in the soft spot and then I realized idiots like this guy didn’t have any balls. “First of all, ” I said slowly with a very level tone,” watch your language, you’re in a public building.”
“I, I’m sorry ma’am. I’m sorry ma’am, ” he stuttered, turning back to the attendant.
“SECOND OF ALL, ” I continued, not taking my eyes off of him until he was forced to turn around and look at me again, ” If you haven’t noticed sunshine, we’re all in here paying the same fees, so suck it up.”
“Thirdly, and most importantly SIR, my family has lived in this country for over 350 years. I think it’s a great country! I bet that your parents worked damn hard to get you here just like mine did.”
Slightly embarrassed I turned around to see a sea of faces – all of different colours and races applauding the pride I have in my country.
I have a deep respect for people who come to a new country, new culture and new language to try to make their way. I do not have a deep respect for anyone who has an ego-psychotic sense of entitlement or superiority, especially when they insult Canada.
So happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians. Suck it up, we’re all in this together.