KD, back bacon and fiddleheads

Canada Day 2011 UK

There was a time in my life that I was embarrassed to say that I was Canadian.  I don’t know where it came from, but I do know that it started young.  At around 9 years old, I can remember being in a pool in Niagara Falls and I was talking to a boy from the States.  He asked where I was from and my first answer was “America”.  He pushed for something more specific, so I thought a little and said “North America”.  This apparently wasn’t good enough and he asked what part of North America, so I responded with “The North part”.  Eventually he got it out of me that I was from Canada, and then we had this whole debate on how I couldn’t call myself American and I explained that Canada was part of North America and so I was North American and thus I could say I was American.

(over the years I have won many an argument by causing my opponent to throw their hands up in surrender at my cunning logic)

When I try and think where this, almost, shame of being Canadian came from I cannot pinpoint it exactly.  Though what I can remember is that my Daddy and his family and basically everyone we knew in St.Kitts had an enormous love for their country.  It wasn’t an In Your Face My Country Is The Best In The World And We Can Kick Your Ass kind of patriotism, it was a pure and honest love of the land where they were born or raised.

In stark contrast, I cannot think of anyone in my young memories of Canada who felt that same way, aside from my uncle Al, and even that was already post the Niagara Incident.

Sure, there were firework parties on the 1st of July, but they were really no different than the ones on Victoria Day.  People didn’t walk around with red and white Canada shirts like they do now.  Or if they did, I didn’t notice.

When I returned to Canada in 1988, I was excited because I missed Canada.  But missed it in a Stay A Couple Of Weeks And Have My Fill kind of way.  Not in a Give Up Sundays At The Beach After Church And Live Life Without Sunshine Every Day way.  So after the initial excitement waned, I became a bit bitter and resentful.  Why couldn’t Canada be more like little perfect St.Kitts if this was such a great country?  I mean, really, what was Canada giving me that St.Kitts couldn’t?!  Other than milk I didn’t want to throw up after drinking and McDonalds?

But slowly, I started to warm up.  I started to see the good and the great and realise all of the things that I and many others had taken for granted about Canada.  And soon my love of the country actually separated itself from just being related to exactly what was happening in Olympic hockey.

And then I moved to England.  I had already had a crush on London, but moving here turned it into a full blown affair.  And wow, I could travel for next to nothing and see places I’d never be able to afford to go to for the weekend if I was still living in Canada and Oh My God! the groceries!

 

Canada Day 2011 Timmys

 

But then the newness wore off and prices of travel shot up and we moved away from London and reality hit.  It took SIX WEEKS for a pap smear result and they don’t have rootbeer and the hockey arena smells like socks and the wings are disgusting.  I started to appreciate everything I just took for granted.  And not just the ability to order any type of food I wanted to be delivered to my door instead of only having the choice of  Indian, Pizza or Chinese.   Do you know you can’t deposit money in a bank machine here if the bank is closed? Unless you have a business account?  And let’s not get into the real estate processes.

Not that I don’t love a lot about England.  I do.  But being away from Canada had given me a perspective I never had while I was there.  I still love St.Kitts so much it hurts my heart every time I read about what has been going on there and England is an amazing place to call home, but I am Canadian.  Not North American, Canadian.

And my children will grow up to be proud of everywhere they have roots.  They will be proud Britons – not just during the Olympics, and proud Canadians – not only on the 1st of July and they will come to love St.Kitts like I do – though they won’t get to experience it the way I did.

Canada Day 2011 Midgets

I read somewhere that the most patriotic people are the ones that no longer live in the country they are proud to be from.  This may be true, but I hope that it doesn’t change when we go back.

So Happy 144th Birthday Canada, and thank you for being awesome.

 

Canada Day 2011 MK

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