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Friday, July 01, 2005 

O Canada!

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. Canadians 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!

O Canada, our home and native land. True patriot love in all thy sons command! With glowing hearts, we see thee rise, the true north strong and free. From far and wide, o Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land, glorious and free, o Canada we stand on guard for thee. O CANADA... WE STAND ON GUARD... FOR THEE!

Well aren't you impressed with me, that was totally from memory and don't ask why I know the Canadian anthem. I'm sure I learnt it from South Park. Well a heartfelt "Happy Canada Day" to all the Canuck readers but I'll also wish Καλό μήνα to the Greeks to ensure they don't feel left out.

Your blog looks super pretty with the Canadian flag! I'm like totally impressed. It actually made me quite sad to hear you were feeling homesick today. I know in theory you should wake up in the morning thanking God that you came to Greece, it doesn't surprise me that living away from Canada for seven years somewhat clouds your memories. Rose tinted glasses I believe it's called. Actually I'm joking, I think you raise valid points and if I knew what Molton was, I'm sure I'd be 100% behind you.


That was most enjoyable SeaWitch. I do know how great it is to live here, but now you have confirmed what to me is the best county we chose to live in. Thanks. NellieGwynne

If it's any consolation, my favorite movie of all time is "Canadian Bacon" with John Candy. I even saw where they filmed part of it at the Niagara falls.

Is it true that Canadians really freak out if you throw garbage on the streets. I thought that was so cute when John Candy and the American agents were littering in Canada as a way of a preemptive attack on your country.

Oh, and do you know this joke. Some say that on a good day, the American Salvation Army could kick Canada's butt in a war.

But, all in all, I like Canada and it's people. I'd like to go there some day since I'm in Europe now and it's pretty close.

Dumb American (I mean Scuffy)

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