Archived Letter – 534

Oh Canuck?

As Canada Day approaches, Canucks all over the world prepare to sport some red and white and get excited to bust out a few extra “ehs”. But what does it mean to be Canadian? As Canada Day approaches, various newspapers online have been publishing articles asking this question. Some say it’s our food, some say it’s our multiculturalism, some say it’s our overall diversity (cultures, geography, languages, weather etc.). This question is a hard one for Canadians to answer, and it seems to be exponentially harder to answer as a Canadian abroad.

I write to you from the small town of Tra Vinh, Vietnam, nestled in the South in the beautiful Mekong Delta. I am here as an Evaluation Officer with World University Services of Canada (WUSC) and in addition to this position I have been teaching English and giving guest lectures and workshops on various topics, at the University of Tra Vinh. Although Tra Vinh has a population of about 130 000 people, it reminds me of my hometown of Elora; quiet, friendly, generous, kind, beautiful, and a place not to be missed in one’s lifetime if given the opportunity.

As I spend my first Canada Day as a Canuck abroad, I reflect on what it means to be ‘Canadian’. Thinking of the Canucks back at home, the Canucks I have met in hostels all over the world, the Canucks I have met on trains and buses journeying from one place to the next, and the Canucks I have met while working or volunteering abroad, I think of one word that describes Canada; acceptance. Canada is a land which people from all over the world call home, and no matter where they are from, or what their story is, they are accepted. This acceptance is expressed in friendly smiles, offering to help with directions, offering a lending hand and befriending people with a wide range of stories and experiences. Our multicultural quilt is held together with respect, with an eagerness to hear one another’s stories, with a level of compassion of which everyone is deserving, and with open minds.

Beer, bacon, maple syrup, hockey, Nanaimo bars, the loonie and toonie, the great moose and beaver, Mounties, snow people and snow forts, road hockey, totem poles, the Rockies, our East Coast, the Prairies, and the C.N Tower are all symbols of Canada, but they are merely patches of our quilt. On this great day when we get to celebrate our great nation and all that we are, let us not forget what truly makes us Canadian and remember this as we hold the door open for a stranger, say hello to someone new in town or lend a helping hand before being asked for help.

From a Canuck abroad; Happy Canada Day!

Meghan McMorris