I fundamentally refuse to allow my Canadian pride to be blunted by the mayhem taking place in our country right now!
Today marks the 6 year anniversary of the day Alex Bilodeau won the very first Canadian Olympic Gold medal on Canadian soil; 13 medals would follow in Canada’s very own Olympic gold rush! It was a rush indeed… This Vancouverite had a front row seat to the river of bright red maple that flowed in every street of the downtown core over the 17 day period of those magnificent games . The potency of pure Canadian energy was far more than tangible – it was electric. It was Canada’s coming out party. Our announcement to the world, we’ve got the goods and we’re nobody’s kid sister.
My first memory of an Olympics was the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, California. Mary Lou Retton was star of those games. With six medals to her credit at those games she was a pint sized Olympic powerhouse and as a little girl I was utterly fascinated. Now, ever since childhood, every time something or someone captures my attention I begin a nearly obsessive journey; gobbling up every tidbit of information I can find about the subject (much trickier in the days before the Internet). During the Olympic knowledge buffet of 1984 I became distinctly aware of national pride; the concept that citizens of a nation found courage, strength, and enthusiasm in their mutual pursuits. This discovery lead me to understand the might and power of the Stars and Stripes.
Grand American Admiration was a common theme amongst the grown-ups in my family back then. Driving from Winnipeg to Boca Raton, Florida to visit my snowbird grandparents in the winter, my dad would regularly extol the joys of the ‘great American interstate’; both my parents would chit-chat about the wonder of all things American. Like it or not our siblings to the south have a national pride that rivals all others. From American movies to cheeseburgers the products emanating from the US are in some way branded with a spangled star. Grand American Admiration was understood by childhood me. But it always left me with a question; why not us? Where was that Canadian fever?
As a kid sibling I know all too well the desire to step out of a looming shadow and shine in your own right! Blazing your own trail requires some stern stuff. I wanted to see Canada step in to her own light! THAT we did during those 2 gilded weeks in 2010. Of course the icing on that cake – the games were held in my own adopted hometown of Vancouver!
OF course we are far, far more than medals. We are also far, far more than our government. As soon as I quit playing the compare and contrast game; finding the Canadian equivalent of each American achievement our real virtue shone through. The Canadian Spirit is, in fact, describable (for once this is a positive use of this cliché). Descending from various groups we have come together to tame this rugged and icy land. Long cold winters haven’t only made us tough and resilient – snow days have produced an intellectual powerhouse too. From Don McKellar to Ted Rogers, from Rachel McAdams to Jeanne Beker we have a constellation of stars who rose because they are Canadian, not in spite of it! Industrialists, farmers, and soldiers, doctors, teachers and scientists all contribute to the grand maple experiment. We have come together to forge a nation with a distinctly pioneering spirit; a nation of courtesy, comedy and consummate ethics!
In the spirit of complete transparency it behooves me to mention that under the Conservative Leadership of Stephen Harper, Canada was my own personal paradise. A nation with strong, wise fiscal policy, firm yet fair foreign policy, and virtually libertarian social policy; we had it all. Canada was a friend to the world, without forgetting about our values and the needs of those at home. It wasn’t perfect – but we were getting there!
Fellow Canadians let’s not forget governments change. In our 148 year history we’ve had 42 elections on the way to forging the great True North! The things that make us great aren’t given to us by the government; they are held in our hearts. The passion, the discipline, the ‘humbition’ (a truly Canadian trait), the ethics, the generosity, and the patriotism makes us who we are!
Let’s keep the Maple Coloured Flame burning in our hearts continuing to build a legacy worthy of those who have come before us!
Happy Valentines Day!! CANADA!