Oh, Canada

I’ve realized that I actually quite like Canada. I’ve met countless travellers saying “I wish I could go there”, or “ugh, Canada is SO Beautiful”…I’ve travelled Victoria, Vancouver, the Okanagan, Saskatoon, Toronto, Quebec City, Ottawa, Montreal, Mont Tremblant, Halifax, and lived in Calgary and Edmonton, and I’ve never been as impressed with our country as other people seem to be…but as I sat in the Wellington harbour for 3 hours people watching (helping struggling rollerbladers), and drinking a local blend flat white, I realized…I’ve never done this in Canada, not until these travels have I been able to sit still for that long without feeling guilty.

I’ve also read lots of Lonely Planets and other guide books on Canada to find that our great white north is actually the main tourist attraction, and I’ve never wanted to go. Additionally, my friend keeps knocking me for being a city person…which is true….to a fault. Basically any small town hasn’t gotten a fair shot from me (Besides Noosa…LOVE noosa) because I’ve spent so much time focusing on ‘where I would move if I moved to oz’…ultimately I actually have no intention of moving there. If I were to get a great job offer I might consider it temporarily….but [call me old-fashioned] home is where family is.

My friend Karl from Sweden hasn’t been home in 3 years…he’s been using work visas in every English speaking company possible trying to find a place to move to…I asked him why, his response: “I disagree with the politics in Sweden and typical Swedish values”. That might have been the tipping point for my realizing I would probably never permanently leave Canada. (That and the American that said all Canadians wanted to be them…obviously sparking a [maybe mildly intoxicated] Anika into a health care and women’s rights debate). I realized that not only is our country beautiful in landscape but I fundamentally agree with most of our politics and values…maybe not those of Stephen Harper…but most values that make Canada Canadian. Perhaps more specifically what makes me Albertan, but that’s a debate for another day.

I love that we have health care, legal gay marriage, legal abortions, that university is a reasonable price but not ‘free’ so there is no sense of entitlement, that we have maternity and paternity benefits, and although it’s not perfect-women are seen as equals to men, religion doesn’t rule our political elections. We have two official languages, we cover 5 time zones, we have resource from gold to oil to fishing and lumber. We have the Rockies, the Great Lakes, border 3 oceans, have vineyards and prairies of farms. We are a multicultural melting pot where everybody has history that links to the rest of the world, and we have a melting pot of [arguably] the best parts of those cultures. Canadians have one of the most sought after passports in the world (which makes me fearful for asia), have one of the best reputations as travellers and hosts as well. We are the birthplace of lululemon/yoga pants (you’re welcome boys), Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ryan Gossling, Rachel McAdams, Pamela Anderson, and Celine Dion (you know titanic would never be the same). We invented basketball, lacrosse, (arguably ice hockey), insulin, pace makers, and even the telephone. Most importantly the Caesar was invented Calgary.

I have realized that I love seasons…I’m sick of summer….not that I want it to get cold, because quite frankly I don’t have the clothes for it…but one traveller said to me “I love Canada–I’ve seen it in all of its seasons–Like a new country every time”. Funny how we take it for granted and curse the snow and cold every time it blankets our cities, and people travel oceans and continents to see it. I was trying to describe snow to a Taiwanese girl the other day and realized how cool it is that we see it every year….even if on occasion it is in July.

That’s the skinny on my re-kindled pride to be Canadian…not that I ever wasn’t, but travelling has a great way of reminding you not to take home for granted.

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