July 1, 2009

Fête du Canada

It's Canada Day in Canada -- or as they say in French -- Fête du Canada -- a holiday similar to 4th of July in the U.S. Once called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), this day celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North America Act, which united Canada as a single country. This act joined the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec).

Ironically, even as Canada Day is celebrated today, there's a movement in Quebec called the Quebec Sovereignty Movement. The "Separatists" as they are called, want the province of Quebec to separate from Canada to become a country of its own. They are rather upset at the continued infusion of English in Quebec and want to preserve this heritage, and other things. Danielle has run across members of this movement in her sporting events and it's somewhat awkward, especially considering the fact that we speak little French, yet contribute to the economy in Quebec on a daily basis and at a pretty hefty tax rate. Canadian politics can be interesting at times, almost as interesting as what's going on in South Carolina.

It's been an odd day though and doesn't seem as "Patriotic" as the 4th is in the U.S. We're thinking it's because there are so many darn holidays in Canada that the day off is taken for granted. Paul still went into work, we had a swim meet tonight and it seemed like business as usual for some, especially in Quebec since last Wednesday was a different holiday. We have not checked out the calendar to see what holiday we have to look forward to in August.

This year's Canada Day also marks the opening of the CFL (Canadian Football League) or for Quebecers, the LCF (Ligue Canadienne de Football) and a game between Calgary and Montreal. It's not as popular as hockey around here, but the Pisani's enjoy a bit of football in July.

Kish found this interesting opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times today...

It's Canada Day! And Canadians forgot why...
Today, July 1, marks Canada Day. "America's hat," as some have referred to the lovely North American behemoth, celebrates its 142nd birthday.

In honor of this special occasion, Ipsos Reid conducted a poll on behalf of the Dominion Institute to see just how many Canadians recognize their important political and historical figures.

Turns out not too many.

I'm imagining this playing out like Jaywalking, former late-night (now prime-time) host Jay Leno's signature segment where he interviews passers-by about basic facts that they get horribly wrong. While only four out of every 10 Canadians knew who their first prime minister was from a picture, nine out of 10 could pick out 90s pop sensation Celine Dion and eight out of 10 recognized hockey star Wayne Gretsky (the only two people I could identify as Canadian off the top of my head).

Granted, some of the "top 10 Canadians" included the man named the Father of Medicare and 2004's Canadian of the Year, as well as the guy who won the Nobel Prize for discovering insulin. I wouldn't be able to recognize the faces of the American equivalents of those historical figures either.

But not first Prime Minister Sir John McDonald -- whose face is on the $10 bill -- and your current ceremonial leader, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean (whom only 50% recognized)? That's a little sad. I would seriously hope that most Americans could pick out George Washington and Barack Obama from 10 photos. But then again, the Jaywalkers could (and often do) prove me wrong.

All joking aside, Canadian leaders seemed a bit dismayed by the results.
"We put their faces on stamps or put statues up, but if the majority of Canadians don't recognize them, what good is it?" said Marc Chalifoux, executive director of the Dominion Institute.

Some Canadians attribute these less-than-stellar polling results on the country's lack of storytelling, crediting the United States for having a great deal of national pride that has not immigrated north.

Perhaps for its 143rd birthday, Canada's goal should be to tout more of its history so its citizens can learn the stories behind the figures they celebrate on Canada Day.

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