I have always loved being a Canadian, specifically an Albertan, but I love my entire country. I mean, it’s awesome. I may not always be able to describe exactly why it is the best place in the world to live, but I believe it to the bottom of my soul.
When I was trying to figure out what to become when I grow up in my 20s (not knowing that I would be in my 40s and still not know the answer to that question), I fell in love with Canadian History. I took every class I could until I ended up with my B.A. in the subject. It may not be extremely useful in my every day life (especially those 8 years I lived in the States), but I really enjoyed it. One of the best parts was that it gave me a much better understanding of what Canada is (or is not).
I spent some time today watching the documentary Being Canadian, where Robert Cohen took a trip across Canada to answer the question what does it mean to be Canadian? It seems that what he discovered is that it is almost impossible to explain exactly what it means to be Canadian. This identity of having a non-identity is something that is really difficult to explain to people who aren’t from Canada – something I learned during my time in the States.
I too bonded with other Canadians while living in the States for the sole reason that we were both Canadian. It was something that had to be mentioned, the same as there is always some kind of acknowledgement when I come across a fellow Lefty. A kind of relief in knowing that you’re not the only one floating around out there.
Also, the fact they had an entire segment about the Beachcombers was incredibly awesome.
I proudly kept my Canadian sorry in my vocabulary until after living in Southern Virginia, I finally gave it up. I was shocked to live in a place where when someone bumped into me and I said oh, sorry they would grunt at me that yes I should be, now get the *** out of my way. I’m happy to say that I have my sorry back now that I’m home again.
I watched the documentary (thrilled that since he’s also from Calgary he spent a little longer there, no offense Toronto, but I was glad that you weren’t the centre of the universe…. sorry) and it got me thinking about what it means for me to be Canadian.
I have strong Canadian roots on both sides of my family. Of course since we are all immigrants, that only goes so far… But, my Dad’s side has old standing in Ontario – I came home from my Canadian history class one day and told my Dad we were learning about the Northway store and he was like oh yeah, that was your great grandfather’s store. And my mom’s family was one of the first to settle out here in Alberta.
I have always identified very strongly and proudly as a Canadian and it thrills me to be back in my country and raising my kids in our Canadian culture (whatever that is).
So what does it mean to me to be Canadian? Well it means my prairie/foothills/mountain roots in Calgary. It means time on the ranch that was started by my great-grandparents and continues on now with my uncle, aunt, and cousins. It means horseback riding and freedom.
It means summers with family at the creek
It means going to the Stampede (the kids here with my uncle when we were at the rodeo last year).
It means going branding and being a part (a limited part since a lot of this cow stuff is totally out of my wheelhouse, but I love it) of learning what makes the ranch work. It’s important we know our heritage.
It means tobogganing down the hill by the barn while the horses watch
It means having your kid throw snowballs at you while you’re unloading groceries from the car (not off the dogsled)
Pure and simple, it means home. It is security, love, peacefulness, kindness, humour, and a place where I am truly blessed to live.
Ok, maybe that is just what it means to me to be Albertan. However, I think one of the best things I did was live in Quebec for 2 years. I actually think there should be an exchange program between our two provinces where everyone has to spend some time in each other’s provinces. I loved living in Quebec and some of my greatest friendships were made there.
My happiness moment today: watching something that made me sit down and think about how much I truly appreciate this wonderful place that I call home.