You might laugh at me when you hear this (my children think it’s hilarious), but I sometimes get choked up by O Canada. A tear has even been spotted once or twice. This patriotic emotion dates back to a powerful moment I experienced ten years ago, and I don’t expect it to ever change.
It was a cold wintry Monday morning, and I was rushing my sweet four-year-old to her kindergarten class, in a daze of exhaustion but eager to show off my new baby daughter in my arms. It was more challenging getting ready with two, but we made it just in time, well bundled against the wind.
After leaving Izzy at her classroom door with a kiss, I was caught in the hallway when the national anthem began to play. I froze and listened, gazing at little Samantha as she gazed back at me.
We had come home just two days earlier from an almost unspeakably wonderful adoption trip to China. Samantha was 9 months old, curious and beautiful, and unbeknownst to her, had just become Canadian. I couldn’t help but wonder how this new identity would take shape for her.
I don’t know if it was the exhaustion, the jetlag, or the thought of having just transplanted a child to a new country, but I felt a very strong and unexpected wave of emotion in that frozen moment. Ever since then, I have been unable to listen to O Canada from start to finish without choking up (and singing it with a straight face is still impossible), when I am with my Samantha. That feeling stuck. Nowadays when we’re together and the anthem starts to play, she squeezes my hand and sneaks a curious glance at my face, just to check.
I know that things are far from perfect here, in a number of ways. But everything in life is relative. And anthems aside, on this Canada Day weekend I feel very grateful, as always, to call Canada home. Here’s why:
1. Kindness rules. There are few nations on earth, if any, where racism, ableism and homophobia are less tolerated than in Canada. Yes, we have bigots, but their voices are far from dominant. My children know about racism because they learn about it in school, not because they witness it in their daily lives.
2. Canada is a good place to be a woman. As the mother of three daughters, I know that even though they will face challenges, they live in a society that values them. They have the freedom to contribute and to shape their own futures. And having experienced the end of my marriage just last year, it’s baffling for me to imagine living in a place where women do not have the right to make fundamental choices that will shape their own lives.
3. It’s boring. Clichés aside, it’s true, in a good way. We rarely make the international news headlines. And as my now ten-year-old daughter Samantha replied when I asked her what she liked most about Canada, “there’s no war.” Nuf said.
As a Canadian designer, I’m very proud to make my clothing line here in Toronto where I live, contributing to the local economy, and I’m grateful to have fantastic, supportive customers across the country and beyond. I have met so many other designers and entrepreneurs on a similar path, keeping their production Canadian despite the higher costs, because it just feels right. Thank you for helping make this possible.
A very happy Canada Day to you and yours!
p.s. What do you appreciate about Canada? I would love to hear your thoughts, hope you’ll share.