As Canada celebrates its 143rd birthday today, the inevitable question arises in some way: what does it mean to be Canadian? The open-endedness of the question, and the ambiguity with which most people respond, are in themselves very Canadian. However, there is something to it. I was in Ottawa recently, and while it was my third time in the nation’s capital, I found this visit to resonate quite deeply. This does not discount the previous visits, as I am grateful my parents took me there when I was young, and was fortunate to travel there on a unique experience as a teenager. Instead, it was likely that the first two visits laid the ground work for this visit to be so meaningful. Further, the personal experiences of this visit were incredible and like any travel, it is the personal connections and events that make the trip worthwhile rather than landmarks and landscapes. That being said, it is my recommendation that every Canadian visit Ottawa at least once in their life regardless of any personal connection to the city. This past visit reminded me we all have a societal connection to our capital. I am well aware that there is an unmistakable bureaucracy present, and some spots are a bit too touristy, but they are easily overshadowed by the value of a meaningful capital visit. By visiting museums, parliament, and taking the time to reflect on what has actually happened there, what does happen, and what people are trying to make happen for our future, you get the sense, or the reminder, that we are working on something here as Canadians. Our nation is not perfect, but overall we are working towards a more positive and intentional life for individuals, communities, our country, and even our world. I can’t imagine calling any other country home. The trouble is, I am not able to fully articulate what that something is. I could certainly give you a laundry list of wonderful generalities, events, efforts and characteristics of Canadians, but that doesn’t specifically answer the question. Perhaps that’s a good thing? Perhaps it’s a sign we are not content with some sort of false balance? The only thing I know is that it’s there.
Enjoy your holiday. Hopefully you are able to spend it with family or friends. If you come up with a well-articulated answer of what it means to be Canadian, then let me know. For the time being I’ll enjoy the ambiguity and the positive potential for our future that it implies.
HUGE thank you to S & M, for without the invitation to their personal event, who knows when I would have gone back to Ottawa. It was also the highlight of my entire trip – congratulations you two!! Special thank you to Y for showing me the inside.
Happy Birthday Canada! Bon Anniversaire!