Canadians are an interesting people. Much of the world see us as ‘nice’, ‘polite’ versions of Americans. I don’t think people expect much of us. I don’t think we like to toot our own horns that much.
There’s a lot of very famous Canadians who most of the world might think are Americans. A lot of Americans think that way. Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion, Kiefer Sutherland, Evangeline Lilly, Howie Mandel, Rush, Kim Cattrell, Steve Nash. It’s a huge list.
No matter how well Canada does at these Olympics. No matter if our crowning glory, our hockey team crashes and burns (it ain’t over yet so watch out!). I have nothing but pride. I thought the opening ceremonies were moving and visually stunning without being ‘in-your-face’ about how great we are.
Our population is 1/10th that of America but we have the second largest land mass on earth. We quietly take part in UN operations. We believe we can change the world without hitting you in the face with it. We also believe you can change the world. And should.
We are a very patriotic people but you’d never know it. We hurt in quiet when it takes our 3rd hosting of the Olympics to get a gold medal on home soil. But I’ve noticed something about us this time. We are louder. We are excited. We are singing our national anthem at curling. We are singing it on the streets. This is not normal Canadian behaviour.
Maybe it’s the times. Maybe there just so much crap going that we feel the need to let loose. My absolute favourite moment was when Jon Montgomery won the skeleton gold medal. He was in Whistler and heading into town for the interview. He was doing the walk of fame. Someone hands him a pitcher of beer and he guzzles 1/3 of it down. And when the interviewer asks him a question, the crowd has started the national anthem. He ignores the question and sings along. It was a great, fun, proud moment. I just love the excitement and openness everyone is showing.
Everyone always says hockey on what event they are most keen on watching. Not me, though I love that too. I love all the events. Ski jumping, ski and snowboard cross, speed skating, biathalon, bobsled, skeleton, you name it I’ll enjoy it.
So as much as the Olympics are a world event. As much as I am so proud we are hosting. As great as the performances have been from everywhere…Sean White is astounding, the Dutch speed skating team is just insane and rafts of others from everywhere…my biggest kick is watching us. Canadians. Maybe for the first time, we are embracing who we are. We are openly proud of our olympians, our hosting job and ourselves.
I never want us to be proud in the way Americans are. Expected. Defiant. But I am glad to see us express ourselves. It is something we rarely do. I don’t want to lose that humility. But I’m truly enjoying that little bit of swagger.
And to Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skating champion whose mother died just after arriving in Vancouver the other day, say a prayer. She is going to compete and dedicate it to her mother. How, I don’t know. But I trust the world will cheer her on no matter how great, no matter how poorly she skates. Perhaps it will be a miracle story. I think we all hope it is. But to go out and compete under that stress is remarkable. And I hope she gets gold. In my heart and for so many others, she already has.