So it’s July 1st, and I’m enjoying the day off. No picture today, because all I’ve got clean is jeans and t-shirts, and that’s hardly riveting material.
Complete non-sequitur: I’m trying to learn French, for a number of reasons both practical and philosophical. It’s useful to know more than one language, and I’m sort of eying getting into politics or government once (if?) I’m finally out of school; there’s an awful lot to be said for being able to use multiple languages to describe your world. I’ve gotten to the point where I can read a newspaper article in French (albeit more slowly than in English) but my verbal/auditory skills are not nearly as good. This is progress, but I want to be fluent, and I’m planning on taking a French course in the fall.
I grew up in the vast suburbs of Toronto, which is colloquially (and derisively) called the Centre of the Universe by the rest of the nation. Southern Ontario is often taken to be the sort of default Canada, which, considering the disproportionate number of people who live there, isn’t entirely unreasonable. But it doesn’t make sense with the national identity that we learn in school: we’re taught that tolerance, diversity and multiculturalism are key tenets of Canadian-ness. We compare our nation to a mosaic, where everyone contributes to the larger picture while retaining their individual identity. We pride ourselves in being a welcoming nation, building consensus and co-operating inside and outside our national borders. We affirm that all the disparate bits of Canada (and their associated cultures) are important, not just the populous Southern Ontario region.
Canada is a very large nation, and regional identity outside of Southern Ontario can be very important, even more important than national identity. While some regions have very strong regional identities, there can be a lot of overt and covert hostility towards people from the rest of Canada that goes along with that identity. I’m very much in favour of national identity, but our national identity favours diversity, and both the majority English and minority French need to recognize that isolation and segregation within Canada is harmful to everyone involved. Canada Day’s important to me, because it’s a day where in Ontario, I used to hear more French than usual (ie, I heard some instead of none). It’s a tangible reminder of our nation’s official linguistic diversity, (though a walk down a Toronto street will show far more daily linguistic diversity). It’s not a perfect nation by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s home, and I’m not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, and so it’s important to me to be able to speak both official languages.
And, since, as PilgrimSoul reminds us, mocking those Heritage Moments they used to run was somewhat of a national pastime, here’s a couple more to snark at:
“Doctor Penfield! I can smell! burnt! toast!”
“Noooo! We must keep our own names!”
“Men don’t wear pistols in Canada.”
Happy Canada Day / Bonne Fête du Canada!