Growing up in Europe, whenever I told people I was Canadian the immediate response was, Oh American.
No, I’d insist. Canadian. We’re different.
But I could never really describe the difference very well. Back then, the gun culture prevalent in the states today didn’t seem as strong and the Canadian dollar was almost on par with the American. We wore similar styles of clothes, though it was often easy to pick out the American boys in Paris by their starched button-downed collars and crispy starched pinstripe shirts and their khaki pants. For those who hitch-hiked, bell-bottom blue jeans and flowers in your hair may have demonstrated you commitment to the era of free love, but no matter your nationality or style of dress, the Canadian flag was the one to wear on your backpack.
But what made me Canadian?
At that point in time, my only real connection to being Canadian was the fact I was born here. A first generation girl born to an Irish/English father and a EuroAsian mother from India.
My roots were not that deep.
But I was proud of my Canada, nonetheless.
I liked that we were considered peacekeepers. That we were not considered obnoxious to most Europeans, like our neighbours to the south.
I liked that being a holder of a British and a Canadian passport, I could travel to countries others couldn’t. And I liked the fact one Canadian dollar got me 5 Francs, 4 Deutsche-marks, and a whole whack of other currencies.
But that was then and this is now. In the intervening years, much has changed to devalue both the Canadian dollar and our reputation as peacekeepers in the world.
Canada in its current construct, turns 150 this July 1st.
Throughout this week, I’ll be exploring my take on my Canadian identity. I’m curious as to how you wear your Oh Canada?
I’d love it if you share yours in the comments below. What makes you Canadian. What make you sing, Oh Canada! Eh?
Namaste. And oh yeah. Vive Le Canada! Eh?