What is a Canadian? Joy Kogawa says….

What Is A Canadian? : Forty-Three Thought-Provoking Responses

In a year following the release of CBC TV's The Greatest Canadianand CBC Radio's BC Almanac's Greatest British Columbians
there is a book titled: “What is a Canadian? 43 Thought -Provoking
Responses.  Each of these essays begins with the words “A Canadian is .
. .”. Each one is very different, producing a fascinating book for all
thinking Canadians.

Here is an excerpt of Joy Kogawa's response… 

the other 42 responses including ones by Alan Fotheringham, Thomas
Homer-Dixon, Roch Carrier, Jake MacDonald, George Elliott Clarke,
Margaret MacMillan, Thomas Franck, Rosemarie Kuptana, Gérald A.
Beaudoin, Peter W. Hogg, George Bowering, Christian Dufour, Paul
Heinbecker, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, John C. Crosbie, Audrey
McLaughlin, Roy MacGregor, Charlotte Gray, Hugh Segal, Janet
McNaughton, Sujit Choudhry, Aritha van Herk, L. Yves Fortier, Catherine
Ford, Mark Kingwell, Silver Donald Cameron, Guy Laforest, Maria
Tippett, E. Kent Stetson, Louis Balthazar, Joy Kogawa, Wade
MacLaughlan, Douglas Glover, Lorna Marsden, Saeed Rahnema, Denis
Stairs, Valerie Haig-Brown, Guy Saint-Pierre, William Watson, Doreen
Barrie, Jennifer Welsh, Bob Rae – you will have to go buy the book!

Here's a picture of Joy Kogawa with RCMP officer and “Toddish McWong” (me), at the Canadian Club Vancouver 2006 “Flag Day/Order of Canada luncheon.  photo courtesy of Todd Wong

What is a Canadian?

(excerpt)  click here for full reponse posted on www.kogawahouse.com

  Joy Kogawa

A Canadian is a transplanted snail called James who sat down on a
brick.  A Canadian is a big fat street party on the Danforth in
Toronto, 2004.  A Canadian is hockey night in Canada on a small patch
of ice created by buckets of water in the backyard.  A Canadian is a
plane full of people from Vancouver flying to Quebec with signs
saying:  “WE LOVE YOU.”  A Canadian is the wind on the prairies that
who has seen.  And a red-headed girl in a green-gabled house on an
island with red soil.  And the Mounties who always always get their
man.  A Canadian trusts the law.  And since we generally rank either
second or third or fourth or whatever, we try harder.  But weren’t we
proud when Gorbachev said, “Look at Canada. They don’t kill people
there.”  Or something like that.  That’s because a Canadian is, if
nothing else, decent.  Isn’t that the adjective that most commonly
comes to mind?  We’re as decent as the day is long, are we
not–fair-minded, peaceable, not demanding guns to defend ourselves,
abhorring and resisting the culture of violence we are virtually
force-fed by the fee-fi-fo-fuming giant close by.  My Canadian friends
who travel a lot say we don’t know how lucky we are.  I think a lot of
us do know it.  I, for one, am a Canadian who loves Canada more than
words can say.

My love is not cheap.  It’s been tested, and it
endures.  I can thank my parents for this.  And I can thank the
community from which I came, and which was destroyed by the particular
brand of racism in my childhood.  I can thank my Grade Two Highroads to
Reading that I practically memorized when we were living in that
once-upon-a-time space called Slocan (British Columbia).  Books were
precious and few.  I can thank the CBC that I listened to when we were
finally allowed to have radios again, after we were moved east of the
Rockies. That’s when a Canadian became the Green Hornet, the House on
the Hill, Share the Wealth, Terry and the Pirates and Johnny Wayne and
Frank Shuster and Rawhide, and that beautiful blonde skater, Barbara
Ann Scott.  Other Canadians from my community who were exiled missed
out on all that.  A Canadian is a group of more than four thousand
people who were exiled for no crime.  Oh sweet democratic country that
I love. Some people are tired of this drum-beat….

for more click here for full reponse posted on www.kogawahouse.com

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