Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vancouver 2010 – A Great Sense of What’s Lacking in Canada – Canadian Pride

Last week I just happened to tune into the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics—I almost cried with pride – yet I originally wasn’t sure if I was going to even watch the whole thing.

These things are often filled with long and overly flashy fireworks, and song and dance numbers that go on and on and . . .

There were some pretty spectacular song and dance numbers, but what really turned me around was some good old fashioned hometown pride.

Six Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers decked out in full dress uniform carried out the Canadian flag, our national anthem – Oh Canada – was sung, and members of the Canadian Forces raised the flag – WOW – my heart began to swell with Canadian pride.

Even long before our national team entered the stadium, it really hit me that these really are our games. Sure the Winter Olympics is a sports competition among the best athletes from across the globe, but being the host country, and being a cold climate country, these really are our games. We excel at winter sports here including hockey, curling and skiing.

Our Canadian spirit shone like the brightest star in the night’s sky during the opening ceremonies, as Canadian symbols filled the Olympic Stadium in Vancouver. From famous Canadian singers like K.D. Lang (who sang a song written and originally sung by fellow Canadian Lenard Cohen), and Brian Adams, to legendary, awe-inspiring Cancer-fighting marathon runner Terry Fox’s mom carrying out the Olympic flag, to other big name Canadian celebs participating in the opening ceremonies, including actor Donald Sutherland and singer Ann Murray.

Even ‘the Great One,’ legendary Canadian hockey player and former coach of our national hockey team, Wayne Gretzky was one of the final carriers of the Olympic Torch – there were rumors all that day that either Gretzky, or a hologram of Terry Fox would carry the torch.

The opening ceremonies were an amazing sight for any Canadian – instilling a sense of Canadian pride which we haven’t had in this country in a very long time.
The last time a sense of Canadianism filled our hearts, was probably – and just as ironically – back in the 1990’s during a Quebec-based referendum on whether or not to stay apart of this great land, or become its own nation. I still remember the posters “My country includes Quebec.”

Too bad we can’t have national spirit-filled days like the opening ceremonies more often in this great country of ours, that would really make this country something special.

Actually, what is slowly and silently killing our country is the over-arching lack of Canadian pride, as newcomers to this land bring with them their traditions and beliefs, and unlike the States where they take on a sense of being Canadian, they just re-create their own country here in Canada.

The numbers of Canadian citizens – YES CITIZENS – that don’t speak either of our official languages of English and French continues to grow. In Canada’s largest city, Toronto, it is estimated that about two-thirds of the city’s population doesn’t speak either English or French.

In most countries, people can’t survive without learning the language of the land, but here in Canada, sadly they can. Big business even caters to this demographic, here in Toronto, some bank machines allow you to bank in English, French or Chinese.

Big business is doing what it always does, invest in products and services which will bring in more money. Problem is, in so doing, they are destroying part of the foundation of what makes a country a country, by encouraging people to ignore local and deeply rooted cultural values, customs and societal norms.

Oh well, at least for a couple of hours, and an odd number of days, the Winter Olympics offered up something we don’t have enough of in Canada – Canadian pride.

Go Canada!

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