Savouring the Maple Leaf Forever
At approximately 5:36 p.m. the email messages started pouring in: “I believe” and “Oh My god!” and “We did it”. They were, of course, referring to the Canada-U.S. hockey game and the winning of Canada’s 14th and some say, most important gold. The funny thing is that all those emails were from my Canadian friends who live in the States. They were watching with their kids and their Maple Leafs on their shirts and in some cases drinking a 2-4 of Canadian beer.
Some of them have lived in the States for 15 years, their kids were born there, they eat, sleep and dream the U.S. and they are mostly like there for the rest of their lives. But they feel Canadian, and they instill a sense of Canada in their kids too. One of my best friends lives in New Jersey Devils territory and even knows some of the players, but her son very politely told his pals that he would be rooting for Canada.
Watching the closing ceremony with Neil Young (lives in the U.S.), Michael J. Fox (again, lives in the U.S.) being held up as the pinnacle of Canadian talent, I have to wonder what makes a Canadian? In fact, what makes you a citizen at all?
Is it time? My in-laws have been here for 40 years but they still sometimes refer to New York as home, but my mother has been here since her teen years and I don’t think she is rooting for the Scottish team.
We have spent the last 17 days wearing the maple leaf on our mittens, cheering on our athletes and once and a while discussing what makes Canada so great. (me: healthcare, accepting diversity; the humility of our athletes; poutine. Son: HOCKEY; peameal bacon)
It sort of reminds me of my Politics 110 class in undergrad; we had to write an essay on what makes Canada different from the U.S., (the answer lies partially in the fact that we would even bother asking the question). Is it our geography? Our weather? Our dual languages? Our embrace of multiculturalism? The ability to poke fun at ourselves?
Lloyd Robertson, the anchor of CTV news, said the Olympics redefined us as a country. Seems hyperbolic to me. I don’t know if the Vancouver Olympics will be one of those defining moments for Canada, or even for our kids. But I do know that for one night it was cool to wear a pair of blinking moose ears and for a couple of weeks Canadians all over the world wore toques.