Tuesday, July 01, 2008
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!