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True North Strong and Free

It's easy to love Canada. It's a large, non-threatening country that may be home to more beavers than humans if you travel above the 55th Parallel. It's also beautiful. It's also not perfect. But it tries hard and I respect that. As I face my second Canada Day away from my home, I find myself reflecting on life in Canada and how grateful I am that I was born and raised Canadian. 

One of my favourite things about Canada is that we are getting better at acknowledging our difficult past and trying to do better. It's uncomfortable, but Canada as we know it today was founded by British and French explorers and colonizers, who completely disregarded the indigenous peoples who had inhabited Canada for millennia. Mistreatment of Canada's original inhabitants continues. It's extremely complicated yet important that we try to right this nearly impossible wrong. Many marginalized groups have been persecuted throughout Canada's history. Obviously, there is no simple solution, but we can learn. We can do better.  It's also nearly unbelievable to me that as France and England warred for control of Canada, in the end, we kept both cultures and languages. It's far from a flawless arrangement, but it's a testament to the Canadian spirit that we continue to be a bilingual country and keep the French culture alive (of course there is room for improvement in this as well). I still find myself waiting to hear the French after the English when I am on the phone or in an airport. French and English on all the signage and packaging is how I know I am home. 

I still have not found a way to tell your neighbour that you love them quite like shovelling or snow-blowing their drive-way without being asked. Pictured is one of my favourite neighbours (part of a team). We miss you Bruce and Janet. 

Perhaps my very favourite thing about Canada is it's true multiculturalism. It is not a melting pot. You can move to Canada and keep your culture, your language, it's encouraged. Canada is a young country, this year she is celebrating her 151st birthday. People from all over the world contributing to the tapestry of the Canadian culture, is the very definition of Canada! I miss this celebration of difference very much. Canada is the second biggest country in the world, yet it's entire population is less than that of the state of California. The UK has twice the population of Canada, yet it's entire land mass would fit into Canada 40 times. Perhaps because there is so much space, Canadians feel a freedom to express their personal culture and truth. Whatever the reason, I love it. Living in the UK has taught me that I am more Canadian than I ever knew. 

I love Canada because it takes care of it's citizens. Universal Healthcare is the most wonderful thing. You can go to a hospital anywhere in Canada and receive treatment, for free. This is worth paying taxes to me. How can you say that you love your neighbour, and not ensure that they get the care they need and deserve? Luckily, the UK has this figured out as well, and I am not worried about going into debt if (when) my children injure themselves, I am confident that we will receive care from medical professionals in the UK- for free. Canada also has wonderful social programs. If you have a baby in Canada, you are entitled to 12-18 months parental leave. This is available for either parent. When we had newborn twins, an autistic 2 year old, and all our family 3454.8 km away, my husband's paternity leave is what enabled our survival. Thank you Canada! 

Poutine, Caesars, butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, maple syrup, ketchup chips (NOT CRISPS), Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, tourtiere, beaver tails, timbits, iced capps, Kraft dinner, Kraft peanut butter, Hawaiian pizza, ginger beef, lobster rolls, perogies, dill pickles. Is there anything that evokes memories of home quite like favourite foods? I do love the clichéd food items of Canada. I also love the availability of Chinese, Japanese, American, Thai, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Korean, French, Tex-Mex, Cajun, and German food! We will be celebrating with friends and food this Canada Day. There won't be any fireworks, as firework season In the UK is Bonfire night (November) and New Year's Eve. Fireworks season in Ontario is Victoria Day (May) and Canada Day. As for the other provinces, I have no idea, and no doubt they are all different, as that is part of Canada's charm- confusing differences between provinces. I have lived in Alberta, New Brunswick, and Ontario. They are all very different, but all very Canadian, and I love them all. Happy Birthday Canada, please stay charming as I will be back in a couple of years! 

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