I am a Canadian. I love this country. The more I see of it the greater my feeling for it.
I was born in Toronto and lived in many places across the city. It is the home of my childhood and though there was a lot of pain there were the good times - going off to the park and looking for frogs and snakes, getting stuck in the mud, learning to swim in Lake Ontario, watching my 8 yr old brother jump off the 25 foot tower in the swimming pool below. I was older but he had the spunk.
Montreal was the city of my young adulthood. My children were born there and live there now. I was a JW in Montreal and quite a few people knew me. Montreal was also the city of my emancipation from the WTS slavery. I went back to school, had my career, learned to enjoy life on the outside. In spite of the years I spent there I never felt it was home. Probably due to the political atmosphere - just one more type of oppression that I made sure my daughters never experienced (they both went to French immersion schools)
I've driven through Cape Breton Island and seen and smelled my first salt water air. Nothing in the world like that. In a way it was a homecoming. My great great grandfather landed in Nova Scotia and the family settled there and over on "The Rock" of Newfoundland. It was a chill day but I had to strip off my shoes and socks and get my feet into the water.
I moved to Manitoba and was astounded by the prairie landscape where you can stretch your arms out and see nothing but sky. Unbelievable. It was also the first time n my life I saw a brown lake. My husband (not the JW) was so proud to drive me north of Winnipeg to see this lake that Manitobans raved about. So we get there I I really need to find a washroom. We park the car and walk over this sand dune and he proudly shows me his lake. All I could see was sand. So I'm wondering where is the lake and I'm still looking for a washroom. And he is getting irritated that I am not ooing and awing at his lake but damn I can't see it. Then I notice the sand dunes are moving. The water is brown. Brown. I have no idea how I didn't wet my pants right then and there. I sure was laughing hard enough.
I've been to BC and seen the Pacific. For some reason it had no emotional impact on me. We took a cruise up the coast to Alaska. The whole way there are these magnificent mountains. We toured Vancouver Island. I had no idea Canada had a tropical forest. I don't even have the words to describe the beauty of this forest. We walked along some trails and saw the fog rising over the water. I had never seen trees so large and so beautiful. I wanted to stop everywhere but was anxious to see what else was around the corner.
I now live in Ottawa. In a strange way it feels like home. I am in the same province and Toronto has the feel of my childhood. When I was searching the background of my family I was able to trace my mother's side of the family to a small town across the river from where I live. It is a calming feeling to know my ancestors walked this way 400 years ago. Due to the years of abuse and now the shunning I have felt very disconnected from family. Being here gives me a sense of belonging. It has been a phenomenal move for me.
Now to the point of all of this
Tomorrow is Canada's 141 birthday celebration. I am proud to be a CANADIAN. For so long it was wrong to feel any type of national pride. It was JW-WTS or nothing. I have been going to the Canada Day festivals for the last few years since I moved here. But these thoughts have been floating in my head all week and I think it was time to let them out. I can feel pride in where I live. I can go out and join in the festivities. I can wear red and white. I can sing Oh Canada. I can carry the Canadian flag - I have one hanging off my computer desk and it stays there all year.
I live in a beautiful country. It has its problems but it has so much that is good. So tomorrow I will go out and celebrate being a Canadian