by Theresa Wells
In the past two weeks I have had some close encounters with Canadian pride. I have been there for two football games where an enormous Canadian flag was rolled out, the first time by dozens of Shell employees and the second time by dozens of members of our Armed Forces. Each time the Canadian anthem was sung as the flag, a brilliant red and white, rippled against the green football field below it. This would seem Canadian enough, but I also happen to know a few people who became Canadian citizens this past week. These were people who still love their countries of origin, but who have come to call Canada home, and now they have the paperwork to prove it. This week those people will celebrate their very first Canada day as citizens.
It all has made me feel very patriotic, in an almost school-kid kind of way, thinking back to the days when we would take the word “Canada” and come up with a word for every letter to show our pride in our nation. I began playing with the idea in my head, some three decades since I did it in a classroom, and as I thought it over the anthem actually began to play in my head, a song I have heard likely hundreds of times but that has never lost its appeal for me. And so this, for me, is what makes up Canada:
“C” is for country, not always the one where you were born but the one you have chosen for your home. I suppose C could also stand for chosen, too, as we have so many new Canadians who chose this country over all the others. There are so many options, and yet they choose Canada. One has to wonder why, but this leads directly to the next letter…
“A” is for ability, the ability to follow your dreams and chase the opportunity and potential in a country that is open for ideas and for business. This ability does not exist in all countries, where factors beyond one’s control – like gender or race – can dictate what the future holds. In Canada we are all equal – and equally able to engage in the pursuit of our dreams if we are willing to work hard and invest the time needed to bring them to reality.
“N” is for narrative, the story of our country and the people who call it home. Some of our stories go back generations in this country while some only go back for days, but regardless of the length of the story every single one is woven into the narrative of Canada, making the fabric of our country not only beautiful but strong.
“A” is for anthem, the one we learn by heart and that when sung by thousands of people can create goose bumps of pride and joy in a country we know to be special, unique and of tremendous importance in a world that still struggles with concepts we have enshrined, like equality and democracy.
“D” is for diversity, one of the very foundations of this country as I, the descendent of immigrants from Europe, knows very well. We may have come from other countries once, but we are Canadians through and through once we have chosen this place as our home. We contribute to the diversity of our country by sharing our traditions and culture with other Canadians, creating a country rich in the colour of the world and strengthened by our collective experiences.
“A” is for all of us, in this together no matter our province, our political leanings, our heritage, our race, our colour, our religion, our sexual orientation. It is for all of us who know as Canadians that our similarities vastly outnumber our differences.
Our gentle pride should never be mistaken for soft pride, as we are as fiercely proud of our country as our neighbours to the south are of theirs – but in typical Canadian fashion we are just a bit more quiet and polite about it all as we don’t wish to be seen as braggarts.
Our home and native land, we stand on guard for thee – because you are a beacon of hope in our world, a country that shines bright with promise and opportunity for people around the world. This is why when that red flag ripples against the green field I feel this wave of something that I cannot quite define, but can only sum up in two words: oh, Canada.
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