From Vimy to Yancouver…

♫There’s a Long, Long trail a winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams.
There’s a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;
Till the day when I’ll be going down
That long, long trail with you…♫

Lyrics by Stoddard King, Music by Zo Elliott, “There’s a Long, Long Trail” (WWI song).

This is a co-operative Canadian weblog on things legal. I thought that, as a Canadian who is observing firsthand an interesting event taking place here in Vancouver, I would take a moment and blog about it. Contrary to what you are probably thinking, this post is not about the Olympics, but rather what the Olympics seem to be doing for Canada – and Canadians. After all, being “Canadian” is, itself, a legal designation, but it is more – much more.

Stephen Colbert (of the “syrup-sucking, ice-hole” fame) came to tape his show here. What did he find? Canadians lining up…queuing…to see his show. No one asked them – it was rush seating – yet he found Canadians politely lining up well in advance of the show and respecting those who had come earlier.

What else is apparent? Vancouver is swimming in a sea of people wearing red and white surrounded by flags hanging everywhere.

In speaking about Canada and the Olympics, the Vancouver Province Newspaper on Sunday Feb 21, 2010 quoted from the The Chicago Sun Times, USA:

[It’s] a country whose top two character traits seem to be politeness and reservedness. But these Olympics have brought out a patriotism that apparently can’t be held down by shyness. Canadian flags are taped to windows all over Vancouver. Canadians are walking the streets clad in red Team Canada clothing. They’re singing the national anthem in train stations. Unheard of…Some are calling these games the worst in Olympic history and you want to say: Really? Worse than Munich?

The British tabloids have gone particularly over the bend because that is what they do. But something is happening here, something new and fresh, and you can feel it. It’s a people embracing its identity and being vocal about it.

“These are not Canadians looking for attention. These are Canadians looking at each other in wonder”

To the writer, this appears to be the latest step in a long line dating from what happened at the battle of Vimey Ridge and leading to Vancouver. According to Wikipedia:

The battle was the first occasion when all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle together, and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice.

We have another battle taking place in Vancouver, one fought on sports arenas and ski hills. But beyond the medals, there is a growing national recognition of a place called “Canada” and its place in the world, built on the achievements and sacrifice required to not only host the Olympics, but to participate fully in those Games. It is apparent in listening to “Oh Canada” after the nightly fireworks out on street corners – in both languages. Being “Canadian” is no longer just a legal distinction. It is now a movement. It has been a long long trail waiting for our dreams to come true.

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