As any backpacker knows, once you leave your home country, it becomes your identity. In the hostel dorm room, everyone’s first question is always: “Where are you from?” I have spent days and even weeks knowing people solely by their nationalities. In such circumstances, I am always ecstatic to reveal that I am Canadian.
Canada is a glorious country. With wide open Prairie skies, endless fields of golden wheat, staggering grey mountains, glacier-fed rivers, and an abundance of wild animals, nature thrives freely here.
The incredible landscape and diverse wildlife are not alone in their freedom. Canada is the second largest country in the world, with 33 million multicultural citizens. Every single person who lives in Canada is granted freedom of speech, religion, and movement—freedom that I often take for granted. I am insanely lucky to be Canadian.
Canada is known around the world as ‘the nice nation’. It’s a fitting title. As soon as you enter the country, a toothless man in a cowboy hat at Customs greets you warmly with a fond “Howdy!” People smile and nod at you as you find your footing on the icy sidewalks. Young men hold doors open against the chilly wind for old women and busy mothers. Customers purchase coffee for the next customer in line at the Starbucks drive-through. Truck drivers stop to help strangers who have forsaken the road and hit the ditch.
We are courteous, helpful people. We avoid confrontation and welcome foreigners. We are proud of our land, even though it’s half-frozen for most of the year. It may be a vast, empty, rugged, freezing land full of oil rigs and Quebecois, but it’s OUR land, and we love it.
Sure, we might apologise when we get punched in the face, but our country’s most passionate sport allows fist-fights. We are a quiet, strong nation, with an unparalleled love for beer, bonfires, and bull-riding. We define the meanings of ‘roughing it’ and ‘redneck’. We have cliffs to climb and jump off of, mounds of snow to play in and toboggan down, and lifted trucks to take us muddin’. We have toques, Degrassi, grizzly bears, mounties, a solid, stable economy, and poutine. We brush off being mistaken for Americans because we are confident in our own skin.
I love looking out my window to discover deer wandering my backyard searching for berries in the snow, driving over an hour to visit a friend like it’s no big deal, and living in one of the safest places in the entire world.
“I’m Canadian,” I tell the other backpackers that I meet along my travels. “I’m from northern Alberta.”
Whenever someone calls me ‘Canada’, I feel a surge of pride rush through my veins. No matter where I go, Canada will always be home. I love my country, and I am blessed to be Canadian.