Readers, today is Canada Day, celebrating the enactment of our first Constitution in 1867. In about a month, I’ll be moving back home after five years in, as we say, “the States.” (That’s part of why I’ve been so quiet lately; preparations to de-exile oneself take a lot of time and energy, as it turns out!)
Mine isn’t a perfect country. We have universal health care, it’s true – and I’ve come to appreciate this more and more as I’ve stared down the business end of a COBRA premium – and a quasi-functioning social safety net. We have pretty decent public schools. We don’t yell on cable news quite so much. The tuition in my program is quite low by American standards.
But it’s not all roses. We also have a past rooted in the oppression of First Nations peoples, particularly through the legacy of residential schools. That racist legacy continues to play out today in government inaction about the hundreds of missing First Nations women and girls whose cases the police have dallied to prosecute. And even, just this past week, a present that’s rather messy – the police brutality at the G20 was mortifying and horrible last week.
(Also, as my friends keep reminding me, booze is more expensive.)
Still, after some initial angst, there’s a part of me that’s feeling like it all could be worse. Per Adam Gopnik:
Almost every ambitious Canadian thinks of leaving, because, model liberal country or not, Canada offers a small stage. Once you are gone, the realities of Elsewhere sooner or later sink in — the indifference of the British, the insularity of the French, the occasional insanity of Americans — and the model liberal country looks better and better as a place to go home to.
Happy birthday, home.
(The video is a Canada Heritage Moment, which are a series of commercials that aired in Canada in the 90s highlighting particular moments in Canadian history. This one is about one of the first female doctors in Canada. Making fun of the histrionic acting is a Canadian national pastime.)