Articles by kelly

Canada’s Birthday

The History

In the 1800′s Canada was a series of divided areas. With Upper Canada populated with settlers from France and Lower Canada with settlers from England, the colony stood on opposites sides of many issues- including wars in Europe between their home countries. Different regions surfaced, including Acadia on the East Coast which was predominantly French, and Manitoba inland which was created by the fur trade.

These areas all had their own system of government or political parties. Further, at this young stage, the Canadian colonies were already spread over such a diverse area of lands that they held individualized resources and needs. This enhanced the tensions between each other.

It was finally in 1867- Yes, Canada is still so young in comparison- that the founding fathers of Canada created the Confederation. At the helm, was our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald. Together, 4 provinces formed to become a major part of the Canada we know today. They were Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Manitoba, on the other hand, held off another 3 years before they finally joined the country at the same time as the Northwest Territories. From then on, it was a slow process of adding British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Territory, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and finally Newfoundland. They joined one at a time, dating as recently as 1949. In fact, recently, in 1999, a piece of the Northwest Territories separated itself and became Canada’s third territory, Nunavut. These 13 regions create the entirety of Canada.

The Celebration

Mounties raising the flag

It was July 1st, 1867 that Canada was born. We still celebrate the country’s birthday with the aptly named Canada Day each year. It is a national holiday with most people receiving an extra day off of work. Often this longer weekend is simply referred to ‘the July long’.

Children are usually recently out of school and families often take this time to travel out of town. Road trips, camping, and any outdoor experience are common. It is the official kick-off to our summer enjoyment.

My personal favourite Canada Day celebration happened up North in the village of Haines Junction, Yukon. The whole town came to be in or to watch a parade right down the main street. Their main street also happens to be a stretch of the Alaska Highway. Thus, this popular summer highway was barricaded and closed for the duration of the parade. Of course, in this village of ~500 people, a parade does not take very long. There was also a huge barbeque lunch serving hamburgers and hot dogs. It seemed that everyone attended.

Other common events include concerts, family-oriented events in parks, and fireworks at night. And, we cannot forget, everyone wears as much red and white and maple leafs as they can.

 

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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The 4-way stop courtesy

Aisha Ashraf, a British expat in Canada

June 29, 2012 Comments disabled

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police

I do not imagine there are many places where one can hear, “And then the cop pulled up next to me on his horse”, and not break a stride. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, are our national police force. Though they no longer carry out typical duties from horseback, horses are ridden ceremoniously or in more picturesque scenes. They are still on-duty police officers

 

The full Mountie uniform.

Our Mounties, as we prefer to call them, wear a bright red jacket and black pants. The look is completed by a wide-brimmed hat and boots. Inside sources say these boots are handed to new recruits as black boots which they then must polish until they become the brown we all know and love. These outfits are, though, not used within regular duties, as they are not practical once in a car or walking the beat.

The RCMP have been around officially since 1920. They are a national symbol. In fact, souvenir shops are filled with little Mountie figurines and various Canadian wildlife dressed in wide-brimmed hats.

Mounties go through an intense training program in central Canada, where they learn not only discipline and loyalty to the force, but extreme driving skills, police tactics, and how to take pepper spray to the face. Extra training can include taser use.

RCMP trainees parading.

RCMP trainees parading.

As the RCMP services the majority of Canada (a few cities and provinces use their own policing force), Mounties can be deployed any where in the country once they have completed training. Typically, rookies spend their first 4 years in less desirable locations- in the north and smaller towns far from home. Within their career, they will move between many locations. The hope is, especially in smaller towns, that they will not bond past the ability to properly police residents; or create enemies due to their need to arrest or fine individuals.

The RCMP mascot, because it's not Canadian until it includes a bear or a beaver.

The RCMP mascot, because it's not Canadian until it includes a bear or a beaver.

 

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The 4-Way Stop Courtesy

A Wedding on Yukon Time

How to Be a Canadian

May 23, 2012 6 comments

Familiarizing the World with Assam.

Ruchi Kaur, a design professional in New Delhi, has one major goal: to introduce the globe to the culture of Assam. Feeling the media constantly portrayed her homeland in a negative light, Ruchi, along with a photographer and IT specialist, set out to change Assam’s reputation. Her new blog, Sinaki: The Familiarity Project, includes stories of heroes, celebrations, and beautiful orchids.

I recommend the Sights & Sounds page for some stunning photography. Sinaki, while written in English, does include Assamese within some of the art and Assamese phrases written with English characters to help us all read and pronounce the language.

1. Where do you live, and where are you from?

I currently reside in New Delhi, India. I was born and brought up in Dibrugarh District of Assam, North-East India.

2. Can you tell us why you began this blog?

Writing has always come across to me as a natural phenomenon. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s one of the best tools to express my views.

The idea behind the concept ‘SINAKI’ started a year ago.

Assam and, in general, the North-East of India has always been highlighted by the media in a very negative spirit. Militant urgencies in Assam make cover page stories and headlines while the most amazing of things never get a forefront. I personally have come across people from the rest of India who do not even know about the culture that exists. It’s because they never cared to go and see what lies in that land. Promotions for the state have not been successful enough to bring about the positivity. Its a small place with a big heart. All that is needed is acceptance. This is only possible if the differences are abolished. This is my reason of familiarising Assam. So that not just India but the world gets to see unexplored beauty.

Plus, I believe that one should repay to that land that gave a person life and living. SINAKI is a way of paying tribute to the land.

3. What is one thing you would like everyone to learn about Assam?

‘Joi Aai Axom’ (pronounced as joey-aaii-okhom) means ‘ long live Assam’.
Come visit Assam once, you will learn everything about it. It’s the second ‘God’s own land’

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India, a world of cultures, languages and traditions

Picture Postcards: Indian flower seller

The great big Coorgi wedding

May 8, 2012 3 comments

A look into Our Parents

Mark McLean, a Canadian prairie boy who moved to the West Coast, has spent the past few months living in Michigan and sixteen months prior in Dominica. His time abroad has allowed him not only the opportunity to meet locals and expats alike, but also to get writing. May we all be especially grateful for the latter.

Mark’s newest project involves taking a look into, not the people he meets, but the parents who raised them. He was inspired to start the blog Of Our Parents. (more…)

April 10, 2012 4 comments

The 4-Way Stop Courtesy

This traffic pattern was never something I had considered before. I grew up with it. We learn how to take advantage of the situation practically as soon as you learn to drive. Then, I had some friends visit from Australia who just had to know how this amazing display of courtesy actually worked. I also heard, recently, that this may be a purely Canadian phenomenon, not North American as I assumed. Maybe someone can chime in.

All streets have their own stop signs.

(more…)

March 2, 2012 5 comments

We Really Do Dog Sled in Canada.

Canadians love to joke about how there is always snow, we all live in igloos, and our main source of transportation is the dog sled. While, it is definitely not a main source- there are roads, highways, airports- dog sledding is a part of the culture in the North.

A small sled meant to carry one rider inside and one driver on the back.

The Yukon is north of 60° (latitude). It’s a 2.5 hour flight up from Vancouver. It borders Alaska, USA to the west and British Columbia, Canada to the south. It was home to the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s. And, in the winter, boy is it cold there!

One major winter event is the Yukon Quest: a thousand mile race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks Alaska. This race follows the gold rush route and is called the toughest dog sled race in the world. The race can take between 10 and 20 days to complete, with limited checkpoints between. This is not a winter sport for the faint of heart. Yukoners are hearty, strong, and adventurous.

Tourists can partake in this cultural sport without facing the sure death that would befall the inexperienced musher (sled driver). A resort just outside of Whitehorse offers day trips and short expeditions. It is called Muktuk Adventures and is home to experienced mushers of the Yukon Quest. We did a quick 2 hour trip that followed a very small portion of the Yukon Quest trail. It ran on top of the frozen Takhini River.

The trip starts with a major bundling up in winter gear: wool socks, winter boots, thick snow pants, giant jackets, warm hats with ear protection, hoods, and, of course, water and wind proof gloves. We then learn the easy basics: a sharp “Let’s go” will get the dogs moving, a low “Whoooaaa” will bring them to a stop. Two to a team, we each have one driver and one rider pulled by five dogs.

Let me tell you, if I was as excited for a day’s work as these dogs, life would be perfection. Every dog in the yard wanted a turn to get out for a good run. Imagine 100 dogs barking and running in circles for attention. Even on the trip, their excitement never dwindled. They barked and danced. They ate snow and played with each other. They constantly seemed tangled in their lines beyond repair during breaks, but always seemed to sort themselves out in time to start up again.

I am more clothing than person!

The dog village.

Overall, it was quite a fun experience. I did fall once, but managed to pull myself back up onto the skis of the sled, find the brake, and give a “whoooaaa”. No harm done. Being on the river, most of our trip was flat. The way back up to the cabin, though, was a short uphill. Here, the driver is expected to jump off and run with the sled to help out the dogs. Hopping back on is the tricky part.

The team pulling us across the frozen river.

I am very glad to have been able to join in on such a stereotypically Canadian winter sport. Though I am years of training off of running a race, maybe next time we will try an overnight expedition.

Eager to keep going!

January 11, 2012 6 comments