For as long as I can remember there has always been the question, “What does it mean to be Canadian?” Many nationalities have definitive ideologies, traditions and icons but as a Canadian, it isn’t so simple. We are a country made up of many of these definitive cultures and as a child in school I remember being told that we are a “mosaic” embracing any and all cultures that make up our vast landscape. Everyone came from somewhere else and so if you asked someone what their nationality was, the answer would always be “French-Canadian”, or “German-Canadian” or “English-Canadian” and, well you get the idea. We weren’t just “Canadian” as we all came from somewhere else. I am only a few generations Canadian myself yet I don’t define my nationality as anything but Canadian. I do know my heritage and am grateful for the sacrifices previous generations made for me, but I am Canadian.
As I set my alarm for 5am on a snowy Sunday morning to watch the Gold Medal game for men’s ice hockey, I realized THIS is what defines us. Canadians may not be known for specific foods (well maybe poutine and maple syrup), or icons (the beaver is our national animal but no, we don’t all live in igloos and have dog sleds), or generations of traditions that we all share (unless watching hockey counts), but I can use one single word to help others in the world understand who we are – Pride.
It only takes a glance at any social media site to realize there are Canadians all over the world watching our men’s hockey team in a fight for that coveted Olympic Gold Medal. I tongue-and-cheek post on social media that with every goal I can hear the entire country cheer, but I sincerely don’t think I’m that far off. To some, it is “only a hockey game”, but for a Canadian, our country woke up at insane hours of the morning to be with friends, family and even strangers (yes, the bars really are open at 5am serving breakfast beer – THAT is Canadian!) to watch the best of the best do what they love so the millions of us across the world can hear the Canadian national anthem and see our flag hoisted up high.
Maybe we don’t need a list of ideologies, icons and traditions to be Canadian. Maybe we just need an Olympic Gold Medal. 😉