July 4, 2012

I guess the first thing I should say is, Happy Independence Day.  It is after all, the anniversary of the United States of America.  Although I am not American, I do have plenty of relatives on my mother’s side who are.

Canada’s birthday/anniversary, of course, is July 1.  Even if I didn’t know or couldn’t remember when Canada’s birthday is, there are always lots of reminders on the Internet.  Everything from people well-wishing Happy Canada Day, articles from various news sources, and even publications issuing ‘Top Ten’ lists in which Canada is predominately mentioned.

To that end, Plinky.com had an interesting query:  List the top four things you love about your country.

Four things, eh?  Well, if I was answering this for my students, it would be easy to come up with four things I love about Canada.  Maybe even five or 10.  Considering that this is my blog, my response to this query should be a lot more precise.

Also take into consideration, that I haven’t been in Canada for a couple of years, and in the past 10 or 11 years, not as often as I’d like.  But, here goes.

1.  Food

Having spent the better part of my life in Canada, food was not a thing I would say is great about Canada.  Having been away for several years though, has made me appreciate the diversity of food available in Canada to satisfy our tastebuds.

As Canada is a multi-cultural society, we have the option and pleasure of enjoying foods that have been introduced into our society from all over the world.    Besides the standard meat and potatoes that everyone has had a dinner or Frosted Flakes for breakfast, we really do have a vast menu available to us.

If preparing foods at home becomes a hassle or just plain boring, then we have take out or delivery.  Everything from pizza, to chicken, to souvlaki, to poutine.  I honestly can’t remember having the same thing, two days in a row for dinner.  Dinner was always different day-to-day.

Being here in Taiwan, things a re little different.  Most people that I see eating their meals, usually have basically the same thing, day after day.  Food I suppose, is more just considered nourishment for the body, and taste and variety are secondary.  Yes, there will be the odd occasion to vary the meal, but for the most part, the same thing day after day.

Even I’ve fallen into that ‘trap’ here.  Although I try to vary my tastes from day-t0-day, I still find that I may have the same type of meal two or three times a week.  In Tainan, there isn’t a great variety of foods available, especially if seafood is not part of your diet!  People here say that Tainan and Taiwan food are very delicious.  Okay.  Although my personal opinion is quite different, I have been able to find places that I do enjoy.

2.  Weather

I’m not a huge supporter of winter.  Sometimes, I wish my ancestors had settled in the United States rather than Canada.  I think winter has to be the most horrible season we Canadians (and other countries) have to endure.

However, it is nice that we do have four seasons.  When I think of Christmas, my immediate image is snow falling.  When I think of Easter, I imagine warm days, and still somewhat cool nights.  When I think of Summer, I think of hot days, and hot nights.  When I think of Fall, my imagery changes to red, yellow, and orange leaves colouring the trees.  The cooler days after summer, and progressively cooler evenings.

In a country like Taiwan, there is only Spring and Summer, in my opinion.  It is either hot and hotter, or cool and rainy.  Although I definitely do not miss the snow and sub-zero temperatures, certain holidays and celebrations, that are only ‘recognized’ here, don’t seem the same.  Then again, when I still have to teach classes on Christmas Day, well, my holidays and celebrations are my own.

3.  Cultural Diversity

I love the fact that Canada has such a diverse culture.  Sure, it would be nice to say that something is absolutely Canadian, but what makes Canada ‘Canada’, is its diversity.  Many people, ideas, foods, celebrations all combine to give Canada its uniqueness.  Unlike the American lifestyle, we still maintain our ancestry.  We are ‘French Canadians’, or ‘German Canadians’, or ‘Chinese Canadians’.  In America, as with many other countries, you are an American.  Period.

And in a country like Taiwan, even if I was to become a PERMANENT Alien Resident, I would always be looked at and referred to as a ‘foreigner’.  I am proud that most Canadian people do not look at others as ‘foreigners’.  The neanderthals that do still hold that ideal, should look back at their OWN ancestry, and realize that THEY are foreigners as well.

4.  World Acceptance

This is a little more of an observation.  There are few flags from countries around the world that are recognizable as the Maple Leaf.  Yes, most people recognize the American flag without hesitation, but the Canadian flag has to be right up there as well.

When I have traveled to other countries, and even around Taiwan, I get better treatment once the locals know that I am a Canadian, rather than an American.  I don’t know exactly why, but I don’t question it!

I was recently chatting with someone in Ireland – an online friend who plays one of the Facebook games I do.  We got to chatting about where we each were from, and I told her that I was from Canada, but live in Taiwan.  She didn’t know what Taiwan was, and after explaining that it was a country, she didn’t know where Taiwan was.  She’d never heard of Taiwan!  Wow.  But she sure knew a lot about Canada.  Since I’m not Taiwanese, I wasn’t too concerned.  Being a somewhat more knowledgeable person, I pride myself on knowing something of my world around me.

I’m proud to be a Canadian.  I will never, at my own doing, give up my Canadian citizenship for any reason.  I can’t see, at least in my lifetime (hopefully, the next couple hundred years or so) that Canada would become an unappreciated country.

We have a lot to be proud of.  Our acceptance of others, and diversity of cultures makes us favoured and recognized the world over.  Why would I, or any one of my fellow Canadians, want to give that up?

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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