When I moved back to Canada I felt calm, reassured, and content - I was home. Growing up we were the “neighbours to the north” that no one really paid attention to. Being on the northside, you couldn’t help but compare yourself to the only country you bordered. They always seemed to have all the things we didn’t from clothing brands to McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. But after seven years of living in the United States with intermittent travel to Europe and Asia, I found myself back home with a new perspective. Being Canadian wasn’t about not being American, it was much bigger than that.
We are a country of passion, freedom, safety. We are inclusive, generous, considerate. We have pride in our country and our fellow citizens that leads to mutual excitement when you meet another Canadian on your travels. Our compassion and companionability is known worldwide as other countries and communities welcome us with open arms. I started traveling at a young age (my first trip sans parents was a month-long trip to Greece), and over the years it has brought perspective as well as appreciation for the place I call home. I haven’t traveled to a place that I didn’t fall in love with, that I didn’t take a piece of inspiration, knowledge, or self reflection back home with me. We’re quick to assume that the grass is always greener but travel isn’t a means of escaping and comparing ourselves to others, but rather a way for us to realize self growth and personal fulfillment all while appreciating where we’re from.
Perhaps the most rewarding part about traveling is recognizing your country in others. Living in a place whose population is driven by immigration has created a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and food. An opportunity to be a part of a diverse community that leads to new ideas and fresh perspectives. I recently met two young women at a networking event, from England and The Netherlands respectively, and they were thrilled to have found a new home on Canadian soil for a chance at learning and living in inspiring surroundings. My first reaction was surprisingly shock - who would want to live in Canada when there was the rest of the world to explore? It forced me to take a step back and acknowledge what our country had to offer; what it meant to others to be here.
One of the best parts of Canada is the rest of the world is already here as made evident by the World Cup. The participating countries are always well represented by communities across Canada. Throughout the tournament it opens up conversations about people’s heritage and homeland, stories about their country and culture, and leads to new connections and friendships. And no matter who wins, we’re all left with an immense amount of pride in the country we call home.
And our diversity doesn’t begin and end with the people. The landscape from coast to coast boasts everything from mountains to prairies and oceans to lakes - a truly magnificent place that I get to call home. A place that has offered me every opportunity to be educated, creative, athletic, and independent. So why not celebrate this Canada Day long weekend with the things that make us happy: family, food, and fireworks. And though I can’t be sure where life will take me, and I know that my curious and adventurous spirit will pull me away, one thing I know for sure is, you can always come home.
What does home mean to you? Let me know if in the comments below!