A few weeks ago, on July 1st, I celebrated Canada’s birthday… in London. Yes, you read that right. I feted the Great White North’s 145th birthday right in London’s busy Trafalgar Square. Imagine that!
I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t been there and seen it with my own eyes. I had absolutely no idea that the city of London would deign us Canadians a party commemorating our nation’s birth. It was only after Melissa, fellow travel blogger and Canadian living in London, mentioned that she would be attending the festivities that I became aware.
A Canadian friend of mine just happened to be visiting me in London that same weekend, so I had the perfect excuse to go. My friend and I ended up meeting Melissa and Jen, another Canadian blogger living in London, at Trafalgar Square, the epicentre of all the activity. Four Canadians, all bloggers and expats (the friend I had visiting not only blogs, but works in Hong Kong), celebrating their Canadian-ness in London! Our Canuck group was also joined by my good friend Fned, who is actually Mexican-American but agreed to be an honourary Canadian for the day. Bless her.
We dressed in red and white (the colours of Canada’s flag) to get into the spirit. I was touched that Fned represented for Canada- how cute is she in her white pants and red shoes?! This is why I love this girl.
All in all, it was quite the stereotypically Canadian affair. There was hockey playing (of course). And many stands selling Canadian treats like pancakes doused in maple syrup, poutine (thick cut fries, topped with melted cheese curds and gravy) and beaver tails (fried dough in the shape of a beaver’s-Canada’s national animal- tail, sprinkled with cinnamon.
We didn’t stay long, but it was nice to feel connected to home even though I am an ocean away, surprising to even have the opportunity to do so.
Funnily enough, I’ve noticed that the longer I live abroad, the more “Canadian” I feel: this is strange because I never identified strongly with being Canadian when I was growing up in Toronto. In fact, when I lived back home I would sooner say I was Jamaican -my parents were born there and I had a decidedly Caribbean upbringing- than Canadian. Somehow, however, living in foreign lands brings out what I call my “innate Canadian-ness”; in particular I’m acutely aware of my Canadian accent (I don’t say oot and aboot, though nearly) that inexplicably becomes more prominent the longer I’m away from home.
Abroad, I represent my home country proudly, am a dutiful ambassador or all things Canadian, patiently explaining the difference (however small) between us and our American neighbours to the South. Back home, I’m the Toronto girl who has barely seen any of the country where she lived for 23 years- I’ve travelled more in places like France, Mexico, and *gasp* the U.S. than I have in my home and native land. (I blame exorbitant transport costs within Canada- no way am I spending $800 on a ticket to Edmonton when $600 can buy me a plane ticket to Edinburgh!)
How close a connection do you have to your country/region of birth? Have you travelled extensively within your home country? Do you find that you try to represent your home country well when you’re abroad?