Today is July 1st and I should have had the day off, gone to the beach and then down to the Halifax waterfront to watch the fireworks. But none of that happened because Greeks don't celebrate Canada Day
. Maybe I should have thought out this whole moving-to-another country idea more carefully. But what's done is done. So now, all I can do is blog Canada Day
instead of actually celebrating it.
When I woke up this morning, I was actually a little homesick. That doesn't happen very often but today being Canada Day
, I spent most of my day thinking about what it means to be Canadian
. Apparently, a lot of Canadians
have pondered this question and give up after 5 minutes. I used to do the same thing but not anymore. Now, I know what being Canadian
means. It's not the Maple Leaf on the tail of an Air Canada
plane. It's not the Canadian
flag flying over our embassy. It's not Molson's on tap at your favourite pub. Those are just symbols of our country. I never knew what it was to be Canadian
until I left Canada
. Living outside the country for the past 7 years has given me some insight which always eluded me while living in my insulated Canadian
world and I will now share some of them with you.Enjoying clean air, green grass and blue water.
Living in smog-filled Athens, I long for the days that I could wake up in the morning, take a deep breath full of truly fresh, clean air and not need half a litre of caffeine to kick start my brain or a Clarityn to open up my nasal passages in order to take a breath of hazy smog.Access to a great healthcare system.
Hospitals that don't look like 3rd world orphanages and family doctors who won't misdiagnose you 90% of the time. Surgeons who don't demand thousands of euros in advance before they operate on you.Having a quality education. Canadians
consistently place in the Top 5 of OECD reports on education and literacy. Like most Canadians
, I mistakenly assumed that all schools have chemistry and physics labs, in-school libraries and soap in the washrooms. It's quite a disappointment to realize that my education 30 years ago was far more advanced than what my son receives now.Being tolerant
. I love the diversity of Canada
's mulitcultural, multi ethnic background. It's proof to me that immigrants can make a strong country. I like, that even in a small city like Halifax, I could choose from a wide variety of ethnic cuisines...Italian, Thai, Hungarian, Greek, Arabic. It's like travelling the world without leaving your own city.Decent governance
. Scandals plague every government but the level of corruption in Canada
's is minimal compared to many other countries. We just don't realize what REAL corruption is. I've never been asked or compelled to give a bribe to get any paperwork processed. Government offices are usually clean, efficient, organized and the staff polite and service-oriented. When my husband and I had to renew our passports, I thought it would take me forever applying for my Canadian
one outside the country. I was so wrong. I phoned my embassy and was told what I needed...I requested all the necessary papers via email from Canada
and forwarded them to my embassy here in Athens. The whole process took me less than 10 working days. It took my husband over 6 weeks to renew his Greek passport. Our tax burden may be higher than a lot of countries but it becomes less of a burden when I realized just what I get in return for it.Complaining
love to complain. Maybe it's what makes our country stronger. We don't put up with government malfaisance...it's front page news if a mid-level politician buys himself a new garbage can with taxpayers money. We expect our telephones, electricity and roads to be in perfect working order and if they're not, heads must roll until we feel they've learned their lesson. We don't care if they're the result of acts of God...we must have better service and if that means getting our Foreign Minister to talk tough with God, then so be it.
So, I wish all my fellow Canadians
a Happy Canada Day
along with the wish that 2005 just might be the year that more than 5 out 0f 10 people learn the words to our national anthem!