When defining Canada, you might list some statistics. You might mention our tallest building or biggest lake. You might shake a tree in the fall and call a red leaf Canada. You might rattle off some celebrities, might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie. Might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few Barenaked Ladies or that we made these crazy things, like zippers, electric cars and washing machines. When defining Canada it seems the world’s anthem has been, “been there done that” and maybe that’s where we used to be at. It’s true. We’ve done and we’ve been, we’ve seen all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine and turned into theme parks. But when defining Canada, don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks. We are not just fishing stories about the one that got away. We do more than sit around and say “eh?” and yes, we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One. Who inspired little number nines, and little number ninety-nines. But we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes and some say what defines us is something as simple as please and thank you. And as for you’re welcome, well we say that too, but we are more than genteel or civilized. We are an idea in the process of being realized. We are young, we are cultures strung together then woven into a tapestry and the design is what makes us more than the sum total of our history. We are an experiment going right for a change. With influences that range from a to zed, and yes we say zed instead of zee. We are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy, we dream so big that there are those who would call our ambition an industry because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow. We do more than grow wheat and brew beer. We are vineyards of good year after good year. We reforest what we clear because we believe in generations beyond our own knowing now that so many of us have grown past what used to be, we can stand here today filled with all the hope people have when they say things like “someday”. Someday we’ll be great, someday we’ll be this or that. Someday we’ll be at a point when someday was yesterday and all of our aspirations will pay the way for those who on that day look towards tomorrow and still they say someday.
We will reach the goals we set and we will get interest on our inspiration because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks, more than backpacks and hiking trails. We are hammers and nails building bridges towards those who are willing to walk across. We are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss. We are not the see-through gloss or glamour of those who clamour for the failings of others. We are fathers brothers sisters and mothers, uncles and nephews aunts and nieces. We are cousins. We are found missing puzzle pieces. We are families with room at the table for newcomers. We are more than summers and winters, more than on and off seasons. We are the reasons people have for wanting to stay because we are more than what we say or do. We live to get past what we go through and learn who we are. We are students. Students who study the studiousness of studying, so we know what as well as why, we don’t have all the answers, but we try and the effort is what makes us more. We don’t all know what it is in life we’re looking for, so keep exploring, go far and wide or go inside but go deep, go deep as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss. And suddenly there was this location scout, trying to figure some way out to get inside you because you’ve been through hell and high water and you went deep keep exploring.
Because we are more than a laundry list of things to do and places to see. We are more than hills to ski or countryside ponds to skate. We are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can’t wait. We are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes. A country that is all the ways you choose to live. A land that can give you variety because we are choices. We are millions upon millions of voices shouting, “keep exploring… we are more”. We are the surprise the world has in store for you, it’s true.
Canada is the “what” in “what’s new?”, so don’t say “been there done that” unless you’ve sat on the sidewalk while chalk artists draw still lifes on the concrete of a kid in the street, beatboxing to Neil Young for fun. Don’t say you’ve been there done that unless you’ve been here doing it. Let this country be your first-aid kit for all the times you get sick of the same old same old. Let us be the story told to your friends and when that story ends, leave chapters for the next time you’ll come back. Next time pack for all the things you didn’t pack for the first time, but don’t let your luggage define your travels. Each life unravels differently and experiences are what make up the colours of our tapestry.
We are the true north, strong and free and what’s more is that we didn’t just say it, we made it be.