Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Oh Canada!



TODAY IS CANADA DAY!!

I love my country of choice. I am so proud to be a Canadian.

Over the years I’ve taken the time to prowl around her, into all her provinces that make her what she is.

I’ve been from Cape Breton to Vancouver Island. From Thunder Bay to Bonavista.

I am awed by her beauty, dumbfounded by the sheer magnitude of the cathedrals in the villages of the Gaspé Peninsula. Enchanted with the Britishness of Victoria, the Scottishness of Cape Breton, the Irishness of Newfoundland, the Frenchness of Québec, the Polishness of Northern Ontario, the Ukraineness of Manitoba. It strikes me I would never have to leave here in order to experience the world.

I came here on one of the last ocean liners to leave Cobh in Co. Cork. We left on January 8th, 1967, my husband, our unborn baby and me, with trunks of our settler’s effects, my folk guitar and $210.00. All our worldly goods rocking, along with us, across the turbulent Atlantic winter ocean.

Our fare was paid by the Canadian government along with our first month’s rent for an apartment. Looking back, we were so young, frighteningly young. But full of hope, full of dreams, full of a life that could not happen in the Ireland that was then, pre-Celtic tiger.

And it all happened for us, for me, that emigrant dream.

A career, a home, advantages for my children, a long series of pets, travel, access to a rich cultural life, ongoing dreams that could be sustained and nurtured and realized. I’ve met and made friends with people born in all corners of the globe: Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Palestinians, Australians, New Zealanders, Iraqis, Afghanis, Jamaicans, Somalis and Ismailis and we all share one passion that seems to be missing from the native-borns here. To wit: we absolutely adore Canada:

Its freedom from bias, from prejudice, from religiosity and from misogyny. Its Charter of Rights, its universal health care, its access to education for all, its absence of guns, its honouring of ethnic diversity and gender diversity, its writers, musicians and artists. The overall unbroadcasted happiness and satisfaction of its citizens, its caring for the poorest and most downtrodden of us, and its unfailing generosity and innate courtesy and politeness.

We do not sing large and loud here of what we have. No propaganda is necessary. It is a private committed love, held safe in our hearts:

Oh Canada, our true north strong and free,
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

12 comments:

  1. Some parents of those of us born in Canada have actually managed to pass along this _very same_ infatuation with our blessed land.

    And for that I am most grateful.

    xo

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  2. And may we never take it for granted and keep passing it down the line!
    XO
    WWW

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  3. So you like Canada then? Our Canadian cousins love the country as well for much the same reasons, though I think their mother still loves Ireland deep down and would have liked to return there. But once she had put down roots in Canada and lost touch with old friends in Ireland it made more sense to stay put.

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  4. I had one leg in Ireland and one leg in Canada for a while, Nick. I spent a lot of time back home. But the last few trips back had me nearly kissing the ground when I arrived back here. That sense of 'home' is now here, much to my surprise.
    My father, RIP, would often say to me that if he had known about Canada when he was young, he would have emigrated. He truly loved it here.
    XO
    WWW

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  5. Beautiful sentiments, WWW.

    I hope to visit Canada one day - it sounds wonderful. :-)

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  6. what a great post, WWW, and i am glad to hear a little of your emigrant story.

    we love canada. we vacation in canada quite often, and we are impressed with how much more civilized it is than our own country, in so many regards.

    i have a story to tell about accidentally being in ottawa on canada day. i should have told it today. maybe i'll tell it tomorrow.

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  7. Oh it is, T. It's not perfect (we're not too crazy about Harper our PM)but it is one of the best!
    XO
    WWW

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  8. I'm keen to hear your Ottawa story, Laurie and if you ever come to Newfoundland, let me know!
    XO
    WWW

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  9. It's great to see the positive face of national identity for a change - a nonexclusive nationalism based on equality. Many in Northern Ireland and England could learn from that. Happy Canada Day! (for yesterday)

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  10. Hi WWW

    I'm in awe of how you settled in Canada - I have a HUGE problem with all that settling shit. Anyway that's beside the point.

    I've tagged you with a lovely challenge for which you will obviously adore me. You must write a short story in six words. The origin of the Meme is Hemingway's famous answer:

    For sale, baby shoes, never worn.


    xxx Pants

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  11. Jenny:
    We're still young and new, Jenny, and I was pleased to see our newest province (Newfoundland who were dragged into confederation only 60 years ago) proudly display the flag yesterday.
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Pants:
    You're settling back and that was something I semi-tried. There's no going home again, they say and I've witnessed that so many times. We used to call it the $100,000 cure but I think the cost is much higher now...
    XO
    WWW
    PS I will try the meme after heading over to your site...

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