It is with the pride of a purebred Maple Leaf red blooded Canadian that I write to you on the eve of Canada Day 2020.
I am a French Canadian, who lives in Canada on the North American continent, but who is a non-American, who communicates in the two official languages of the country; French as well as English and who resides in the province of Québec. In fact, I am both; a proud Canadian and a proud Quebecer, as Elvis Gratton cleverly describes it in this classic satirical Québécois cinema scene.
For me, for us as a family, Canada Day is typically spent in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, strolling our pride. “Happy Canada day! Bonne fête du Canada!”, as we guess who speaks French and who speaks English. “And to you too! À vous aussi!” is echoed back to us from Canadians and Canadian wannabes, who are visiting to celebrate, my Canada, our Canada.
The mood is light. Everywhere we see Canadian flags raised above the crowd dressed in red and white. We line up to wave back at the Governor General and dignitaries, riding along in the traditional carriage, preceded by our legendary Royal Canadian Mounted Policemen and women riding. We applaud the Prime Minister’s speech and the show on Parliament Hill. We raise our heads to be exhilarated by the acrobatics of the Snow Birds.
It’s brunch time. The Metropolitan Brasserie welcomes us, year after year. A duo plays. We sing and I dance, as you can see below. Life is good in my Canada, our Canada.
We get back up and continue our Canadian walk of pride. Sometimes one of my men volunteers to be in the act of the many street performers. And so on we merrily stroll acknowledging the other street party attendees, ” Happy Canada day! Bonne fête du Canada!” “And to you too! À vous aussi!”
Back home we go. We eat our Canado-Québec combo: lobster and poutine with corn. As I wrote to you above, we are both. Then, probably like you, comfortably seated on the couch in front of the TV, we cheer our Canadian talents and marvel at the fireworks.
This year, in the COVID-19 era, in a masked crowd, that will be much less crowded, minus our planetary neighbours, we will celebrate calmly without contact with other Canadians. Yes, we will brunch on the terrace at two meters of distance and after washing our hands before and washing our hands again afterwards. The pandemic prohibits music in public outdoor gatherings. We won’t sing and I won’t dance. But I will be just as proud of my Canada, our Canada.
On July 1, 2020, I will once again celebrate my luck to be born a Canadian. I did nothing to have won this lottery to say “I am Canadian”. Instantly, just because of my luck, I am granted the privilege of a pass, for almost everywhere and everything. That precious phrase comes with the precedents of politeness and peace. It is quite a heritage, quite a luck to be born Canadian. Thank you Canada.
To that luck, I also recognize my parents’ legacy of bilingualism. Without forcing us, they immersed us; my brother, my sister and I, in bilingualism. We heard “Hockey night in Canada” with Don Cherry and the baseball of our Expos, nos amours, with Rodger Brulotte. We watched “The Friendly Giant” in the morning and “Bobino” in the afternoon. We played with our left side and right side neighbours in English and those in front in French. I went to school in French and then in English.
“Merci Mom. Merci Dad”.
Without these sensory experiences in two languages, I would not have the chance to teach, inform and guide you, in English and in French with: online training, individual coaching or workshops in face-to-face or virtual mode, as well as in my books and in my hundreds of free blog posts.
And you, how will you celebrate my Canada, our Canada?
Happy Canada Day! I love you and thank you, my Canada, our Canada.
P.S. Here are the dos, don’ts and must know of our Canadian flag.