Today I’m taking a little bit of a different spin on the usual Friday five hosted by Mar, Cynthia and Courtney. As many of you probably heard, there was a gunman at my nation’s capital on Wednesday. I ran my first race along those roads, in front of that memorial, and that building. A young, unarmed Canadian soldier was gunned down while standing ceremonial guard at a statue that honours those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom.
This isn’t something I ever thought I would see happen in my country, at a place I love. My Mom and I have spent many a day in Ottawa celebrating Canada, celebrating our countries birth, celebrating who we are as Canadian. I’ve always felt a strong tie to my nation, and I want to share five reasons why, today.
1) Our diversity
From sea to sea we have a wide variety of languages, backgrounds, and religions represented, and for the most part – we live rather peacefully. The most popular last names in Canada are Smith, Singh and Ng (Huffington Post), which should tell you everything. In addition, the land itself varies. We have mountains, prairies, arctic, three oceans, a crazy amount of freshwater, and incredible sights to see.
2) Our traditions
We may be known for loving hockey, winter, and skating. We are known for saying “eh” and “aboot” and “zed,” and we eat amazing pastries called beaver tails and smile through (literally) any kind of weather. We have ketchup chips, coffee crisps, and our smarties are not the same as yours. Ours are chocolate, and therefore better. Real Maple Syrup. Ryan Gosling came from here (so did the Biebs, but we won’t talk about that). We also have some of the most walkable cities in the world. These things may not combine into one neat, packaged identity, but it is ours. They are things we do, and we are united in them.
3) Our character
We are a country that respects democracy, personal freedoms, and rule of law. We are (for the most part) a peaceful country. We react (again, for the most part) to tragedy with grace, good sense, and strength. As our national anthem states, “the true north strong and free.” We stand beside our friends and neighbours, and we have a pretty awesome national anthem (special thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins and the US for standing in solidarity with us Wednesday).
4) Our pride
I have yet to meet a Canadian, from any background, who is not proud, in some respects, of this country. I like to talk about Canada, and as my roommates in Anaheim know, I’m more than open to answering questions. When a Canadian meets a fellow Canadian abroad, hugs and beers are generally exchanged. We are a family, we are united in our pride. The day after this tragedy, #myOttawa emerged. People are proud of where they live – and that pride will respond to any challenge.
5) Our resilience
This is not the first time that we have had to be resilient, as a nation. My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one. We will react, we will evaluate, we are saddened. We are proud of Kevin Vickers, our Sergeant-At-Arms. We will stand back up. We will continue. We will not yield, and we will carry on.