Take pride, Canada

Canadians claim to be patriotic. We sew our flags on our backpacks when we travel; we chug Tim Hortons coffee like it’s going out of style; we try to convince our American neighbours that we have a pet polar bear. But is our patriotism ready for the Olympics? Our athletes need our support and we need to step up behind them. Unfortunately, patriotism is something we’ve struggled with. Sure, it’s easy to be patriotic five or six weeks after the Canadian hockey team stomps the Americans, but we need to be cheering from the very first bobsled run.
How do we prepare, though? How do we instil in ourselves a sense of pride? To start, we need to regain some sense of our Canadian identity, to find our pride in our country so we can wear our red and white with boldness. A prescription for our ailed identity could include: watching footage of the 2002 men’s Olympic hockey game, memorizing Molson Canadian’s rant commercial and forming a lasting bond with an ever-proud and majestic loon. Taking inspiration from a Tim Hortons commercial, hitting as many of our favourite coffee joints as possible while traveling across the country could bring a sense of pride in Canada.
Actually, the Olympic torch relay is not unlike a Tim Hortons road trip in its ability to evoke Canadian pride. In fact this ingenious idea has brought awareness to communities about the athletes and heroes in their hometowns and has allowed for everyone to take part in a great moment in history. As the Canadiabn portion of the relay began in Victoria, Canadians were able to follow the torch online as it made its way through our country, and local television reported on the various small towns and cities that the torch was visiting. Although I likely won’t remember the names of all the places the torch went through, it was really exciting to see the groups of people that gathered to watch the torch travel through their hometowns.
The media has really gotten on board with this vision for Canada, instilling a sense of unity as the Olympics draw near. The supposed shortage of red maple leaf mitts was often reported on local news stations and commercials displaying Canadian celebrities in Vancouver allowed everyone to see the torch carrier’s efforts of unity come to fruition. Every Canadian can admit it’s all a touch cheesy and contrived; the cheer that was chosen as our national call is probably one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. If you don’t already know, Pepsi’s sponsored cheer is “Eh! O’ Canada go!” and will likely inspire more fits of laughter than inspiration for our athletes. There is even a growing Facebook group surrounding the belief that this cheer is a national embarrassment, and last I checked it had 96,000 members.
The push here is for Canadians to take pride in being the second largest country in the world, in our bilingualism, in multiculturalism and in other unmentioned Canadian-isms. We should be proud of free health care, one of the world’s highest standards of living and the strongest sarcastic wit of any nation. We can neglect to include Shania Twain, Celine Dion and Loverboy from the record of famed Canadians as we renew our vision of our country’s strength. Let us instead focus on some of Canadians finer exports like soft lumber, canola and nickel. More easily inspiring would be the popularity of Mike Myers, Terry Fox, Nelly Furtado, James Naismith (invented basketball) and Coco Rocha. These are some of our fellow Canadians. I didn’t even need to put Pamela or Nickelback in there!
So even if you didn’t run, in reality, what the torch relay is really about is taking up your own torch and being proud of your athletes and of your country. If nothing else, I’m sure Roots and Hudson Bay Company could use the extra sales for their Canadian clothing lines.