Canadian Identity

The Canadian Indentity

I am going to give you my take on things.

I am from the Province of Nova Scotia. I have always found it amusing to ask this question. What is it to be Canadian. The reason for this being that I really don’t think there is such a thing as a Canadian Identity. I have in the past tried to square my definition of being a Canadian but like a dog chasing it’s tail I end up where i started just a little more confused.

I have always been interested in history. It is something that binds us to our past. What struck me as I proceeded thru school was the lack of the Nova Scotia narrative in the pantheon of what has been the attempt by central government to bind us together . Nova Scotia you see is home to the original separatists in Canada. Even now when I describe myself I am first and foremost a Nova Scotian and a Canadian second. Most of the history I learned and what has been propagated by the CBC and NFB has revolved around the dual identities of Ontario and Quebec. This should not surprise anyone because, long before Confederation, Canada consisted of those two parts. Nova Scotia was added to this along with New Brunswick under duress from the Crown in 1867. They couldn’t even come up with a new name for the country. It was for all intents and purposes a takeover. Even the Capital of country stayed in Ottawa.

I have made several trips to Ontario. If you look at the monuments and icons there from the perspective of a Nova Scotian it seems more like a takeover than a partnership. This country subsumed Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia did not join it. Even the Capital and Industry located here moved west in the Aftermath of Confederation. We have to learn about David Thompson rather than Joseph Howe.

Ask a Maritimer where home is and even if they have lived for the last 50 years in Calgary, down home is and always will be here and not there. The real fun begins when I tell Canadians how I feel and how I identify. During the 1988 Olympics in Calgary I was standing on the ski hill waiting for the skiers to fly by. On this day there i was holding my Nova Scotian Flag when someone from Alberta approached me. He told me that I shouldn’t have brought it and rather should be holding Canadian flag. It was something I will never forget.

I don’t propose to speak for all Nova Scotians but I have never worried about trying to find some Pan-Canadian Identity. It’s pointless as far as I am concerned. Trouble is the myths to bind it together. Ours for the most part are either based on the opening of the West, Vimy Ridge or the good cop role we played for UN after WW2.

Those things don’t really resonate for me. Never have. Which is odd because my Mom is from Alberta. See my dad left my hometown in late 1950’s. He joined the many who have left before and since and went West. My Dad met my Mom in Calgary but eventually my Dad was drawn home. I was born in Toronto on way back and have spent all my life here. This place is and always will my home.

There is a mountain in British Columbia named after my Great Grand father. Someday I would like to see it but my vista here although much more humble is what I like to look at each day when I get up. The hard part is getting steady work but I have found my place and have everything I want and need.

My view on this country is, I now realize, more attune to what arose out of the Quiet revolution than I thought. I think only way this country is going to stay together going forward is if the regions mind their own business. Become as Moses Coady, one of the founders of the Antigonish Movement, was often know to say “Master of our own Destiny”

There is no point trying to stitch together this country with a common thread. There is too many threads to choose from.




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