Over 10 months on the road and biking through a few different countries I reflect this July 1st, my first year being outside of Canada on this national holiday of Canada Day where in 1867, Canada officially became the Dominion of Canada. We didn’t officially become a country until 1982. (Wiki)
Being on the road I find myself exhilarated by the opportunity to be exploring and experiencing different cultures, different food, different music, different forms of government and different landscapes. But no matter where you are from, there is no place like home and distance truly makes the heart grow fonder.
Yes, Canada is a very young Nation. We have an unique approach to how the country is run and like every country we also battle with our own challenges.
We are a gifted with being the second largest country in the world covering over 7% of the Earth’s landmass and 6 different time zones and have the longest coastline of any country in the world. (Rutledge). We are fortunate to be rich in many natural resources including one of the most precious resources in the world: fresh water contained in over 2 million lakes (7% of the world’s fresh water). Just under 50% of Canada’s landmass is forested (Tree Canada) and most of Canada is uninhabited. We boast the average population density in the country at a whopping 3.7 people/km2 (Stats Canada). The population density for the world as a whole, including Antarctica is 13.3 people/km2.
Canada is renowned for our abundant, iconic wildlife that include big horned sheep, mountain goats, moose, grizzly and black bears, caribou, cougars, grey wolves, bald eagles, salmon and the list really just goes on.
Cougar (aka Mountain Lion)
With so many blessings comes great struggle and responsibility. In my opinion our environmental laws and regulations are far too relaxed and favor on side of development rather than long term preservation. Especially recently where proposed revisions to Canada’s environmental regulations (Bill C-38) including the Fisheries Act, the only Act, again in my opinion historically with any teeth, i.e. power to stop environmental degradation by development where there is fish habitat (in short) . For more information on the recent proposed changes see The Environmental Law Centre’s website.
Snap shot of the Alberta Oil Sands
Despite our challenges, especially being away for so long, there are certain Canadian traits on why I am proud to be Canadian.
I am truly thankful for:
1. OUR VAST WIDE OPEN SPACES.
There is nothing better than escaping into wilderness and losing yourself, being able to go places without seeing another human for days if you so choose.
2. OUR DIVERSITY IN NOT ONLY LANDSCAPES, BUT IN CULTURES.
Canada boasts that it is a cultural mosaic which celebrates our diverse and different cultures. One of our favorite festivals in our home town of Edmonton, Alberta is the annual Heritage Festival. Where the largest park in the city is overtaken with booths and stages of all the different cultural clubs in the city to showcase different food, music, dress and pride all in once place.
3. OUR CLEAN DRINKING WATER.
Something you take for granted at home but now after suffering from parasites here in Honduras from coming into contact with contaminated water we are so fortunate to be able just with the turn of a tap have access to clean drinking water.
One of the 2 million lakes. Photo taken in the boreal forest of Alberta.
4. MY OVERALL FEELING OF SAFETY.
Every city and place in the world has their certain areas that you shouldn’t venture. Even the city where I am from, Edmonton, in 2011 was dubbed the murder city capital of Canada with 47 homicides that year (The Sun), that is a 4 per 100,000 person homicide rate. However contrast that to the most dangerous city in the world in 2011, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with a homicide rate of 159 per 100,000 (insight crime.org), it’s a pretty stark difference. At home I feel fortunate enough not to worry about my safety on a daily basis, I feel free to go almost anywhere at any time, no second thought, a luxury I haven’t been able to experience for a lot of our travels so far.
Source: 2011 Global Study on Homicide
I feel very fortunate to have had the fortune to live and be raised in Canada. When I am homesick it’s not only for my dear friends and family that I miss, it is for exploring where I am from from the seat of my mountain bike, from the seat of a kayak, from hiking in remote locations not seeing a soul for days.
On a closing note I thought I’d leave you with Canadian slam poet Shane Koyczan performance at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. It is a wonderful reflection on Canada and something I like to listen to when I am feeling a little home sick.