Back in the day of school, the teachers would ask us, “What makes Canada, Canada? What is the Canadian identity?” As teenagers we would stutter, look around and each other, and tentatively suggest “uhmm.. Hockey?”. It always seemed that we were stuck somewhere between being the offspring of Britain and France and the annoyed cousin of the United States. We had our British Queen, the French second language and endless access to the joys of Hollywood; but what were WE exactly? Looking back after years of travel, studying, and Canadian literature, I now know we have a huge amount of culture. It took the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 to actually show off our pride in it though.
The Olympic Cauldron
The Olympics were an amazing time in the city. Regardless of the amazing number of medals Canadian athletes won, national spirit was everywhere. The streets were filled with people in red and white. Not a hockey or curling game was missed on TV. All we talked about was Canada, our athletes, and the opening and closing ceremonies. The city was actually alive.
Red, White, and Canadian Flags
This week marks the one year anniversary, and the spirit is still going strong. The cities in the area are hosting parties and free outdoor concerts and the news stations are highlighting the best moments of every day.
There was a lot of doubt about hosting the Olympics before the event, but I believe it was a pivotal moment in Canadian identity. The people realized that we have reasons to be proud: we won more gold medals than any other country. We realized that we have grown into our own image beyond our ‘parent’ countries: our citizens are from all over the world and come together to create a new mix. We have remained unique from the United States despite the cross border flow of media and businesses: no one wanted that Hockey Gold as much as we did.
Inukshuks Surrounding False Creek
Now, if someone asked what makes Canada, Canada, we’ll answer: Lumberjacks, beavers, mounties, moose, canoes, and Micheal Buble! Didn’t you see the Closing Ceremonies?
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