while with his gun the pagan angel rose to say

As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.

As Canadian as possible, under the circumstances.

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Part time customer service job is surprisingly refreshing! But I think the most interesting part of it so far is dealing with my two twenty-something coworkers. One actually didn't realise ('realise' meaning probably knew, but never really thought about it before, in the same way you don't realise you're breathing) that Canada was a monarchy. I'm not really sure how that happened. I mean, wouldn't you wonder who that chick with the crown is on the back of all our coins? (For those curious, Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Badum ching.)

But this led to a very interesting and ongoing discussion about what Canada is in all things. Establishing a Canadian identity is commonly plagued by saying what it isn't, sort of an endless struggle to define ourselves around our settler nation roots and the stronger personality of our big brother. There are so many things that are known as 'American' that are the result of collaborations between the two countries that trying to pick them apart is like separating straw from straw. Until we became a WMD-free country, most of the weapons-grade plutonium used in American weapons was created here, and we were forerunners in developing chemical weapons during both World Wars. Despite being WMD-free, our nuclear weapons free ports are open to American vessels that we can't verify are without them, because Canada as a whole has an idealistic and possibly very naive notion that America will respect it without the need to enforce it. Canada is a little baby nation, hardly over 150 years old, and it's been said more than once it has too little history and too much geography. We contract out entire chunks of our national defence to a country that could swallow us whole in about three days. Who does that?

My own concept of national identity is mired in comparisons; this is British, this is American, but this is us. My definition of the cornerstone of an American national identity is freedom, for my own nation it's tolerance. The debate and self-criticism over the perceived timidity of a wishy-washy identity based around multiculturalism has been around as long as the nation has. We make fun of ourselves. A lot. (This is definitely a Canadian trait. We make fun of the fact that we make fun of ourselves. Common joke: it's awkward when an Englishman and a Canadian meet. The Englishman makes fun of the Canadian, and the Canadian makes fun of himself.) Even applying the word 'nation' to Canada sometimes makes me blink and say, oh yes, we're one of those, because it carries with it the undercurrent of 'For the good of the NATION' that rings as a distinctly American notion.

Canadian nationalists raise some pretty valid concerns about all this eternal naval-gazing. But in true Canadian fashion, the fear that we as a country will be absorbed without a concrete concept of identity to stand on is met with the argument that that is our identity. Because of our stance on immigration, our culture itself is in a constant state of flux, so it isn't surprising that our identity is too.

Most days I honestly have no idea what being Canadian is, but I like it. And that is so freakin' Canadian it's hilarious.

Peter and Neal icon related? IT MAY BE.

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