I had the privilege to attend a seminar given by Hon. Ken Dryden. The former hockey player and current elected MP. He's touring universities across Canada speaking to students primarily, but these sessions are also open to the general public.
He put politics aside and he spoke about Canada. What is Canada? What is our legacy? He stated 2 reasons for these conversations:
1) His childhood thoughts of Canada - it was one of the biggest on the map and thus one of the best
2) His experiences as a Member of Parliament
He's disgusted by the phrase "typically Canadian eh". In reference to us as a country always "behind" the Americans. The USA has New York and Hollywood, we're boring. They're history of fighting for independence and the civil war is exciting. Many movies have been made to show the excitement of America's history, and what it means to be an American. Canada's history has been very less dramatic. Our country is nice, polite and modest. Our history is one of patience, discussion and negotiation. Things that won't make for a Hollywood blockbuster.
The closest Canada got to having an identity was the Molson Canadian ads from about 10 years ago. "My name is Joe, and I am Canadian." That wasn't really who we are, those ads portrayed that we are not American. That's typically Canadian eh? We're the younger sibling trying to look cool to our older brother/sister.
Canada's history is boring. We didn't have a war with national heroes as did our neighbours to the south. We had discussions and negotiations. Typically Canadian eh.
Mr. Dryden's goal in his cross Canada tour is to have the younger generation change the inflection of the phrase "typically Canadian eh" Instead of a disappointment in being Canadian, there is a sense of pride.
The things that seem to make Canada boring and insignificant; being nice, polite and modest, are what positioned Canada to be the world leader in a globally connected world.
As a country, Canada's history is one of getting along, even though we're different. We didn't fight for independence, we asked and waited and negotiated. For the last 15 years we have a political party who's mandate is the separation of Quebec, and we get along. We have never been a conquering or a colonizing country. After the war of 1812 we gave back to USA what we had taken. Our legacy is that we get along.
What this globally conected world needs is exactly what Canada is; patient, nice, polite and modest. We get along. That is typically Canadian. Canada is a global country. Ken contended that we are a global country more so than the USA, and here's why:
1) USA had 100 million people when they opened their door to immigration. Canada has only 33 million.
2) USA had their established identity of being American that immigrants would conform to, Canada doesn't.
Canada invites all types, creeds, colours, religions and we get along. That's typically Canadian. We know how to get along in a global society because we're a global country. I left that room proud that a typical Canadian is one who is nice, modest and polite. One who would rather have discussions and negotiations than go to war. Canada does matter and we as Canadians need to realize that our history, as boring as it is, is what makes our legacy and our country so great.