Canada is truly free. That’s not just a word that we throw around, it really is the true north, strong and free! Canada was actually named the “Most Free Country on Earth” in 2015. One of the reasons was because 94% of Canadians believe they have the freedom to choose the course of their own lives. The current Canadian Cabinet members are equally divided between men and women, along with many different cultures because we see the value of each group of citizens being represented. Our previous Governor General, Michaëlle Jean was not only a woman, she was a Haitian refugee. Our Minister of Defense is Sikh. Many Members of Parliament are immigrants from countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, India, the United States, England and Switzerland. Immigrants are encouraged to share the traditions and stories from their homeland. This leads to great understanding and compassion along with yummy food and festivals. There are so many other reasons to list as well including the fact that we can travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific without going through a single checkpoint. That is a luxury that many of the world’s citizen’s do not enjoy.
This November 11, Remembrance Day, we took the time to remember that this much loved freedom was not free. When it was at risk, great sacrifices were made by the brave men, women, families and communities of our nation to retain it. Our family alone lost two wonderful and brave men in battle in Italy and the ones that were lucky enough to survive were changed forever by Shell Shock, now called PTSD. While we can choose to use this freedom to explore and learn whatever we’d like, I highly recommend you choose to take time to explore the land around you and learn what you can about the history and the people that inhabit it.
Why should you explore and teach your kids about Canada?
Here we go…
1. The Food! So much delicious food from Beavertails, poutine and a Jiggs dinners to every traditional dish from around the world. Did you know that Saskatchewan is the world’s largest exporter of lentils? You can effectively travel the world on a culinary tour without leaving the country. Expand those tastes with your small people.
2. History! Canada has a rich history to learn about. From the importance of the majestic (?!) beaver- it’s not on our money for nothing- to the Bluenose in Lunenburg and nickel mining in Sudbury. I feel that the walled city of Old Quebec is a must-see. The War Museum in Ottawa is an important and regular stop for school trips along with a tour of the Parliament Buildings. Learn of the rise and fall of the Cod fishery on the East Coast and the “Birthplace of Canada” in Charlottetown, PEI. There are of course some parts of our history that we are less than proud of. I embarrassingly knew nothing of the tragic history of the Black Loyalist’s until we visited the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Southern Nova Scotia. There are resources available to teach of the travesty that was the residential school system and the “Sixties Scoop”. While these are not times in our history that we are proud of, it is of vital importance to teach our kids the truth so that the mistakes will not be repeated.
3.Culture! We have so many beautiful cultures represented here. That said, to get any kind of true experience you will need to head to a larger city such as Montreal or Toronto. I love hearing the mixture of many languages circling around me. The different festivals that celebrate these cultures are so much fun and provide a valuable learning experience. I learned of a Polish festival from watching Canada’s unofficial Prime Minister, Rick Mercer. We are definitely checking that out next year. One word: Pierogis. And not the frozen, grocery store variety.
4. Landscape! Canada has every type of landscape available. The majestic Rocky Mountains in the west, The Boreal Forest, The Canadian Shield, the warmer waters of the Pacific in the West and the clean, albeit slightly frigid waters of the North Atlantic in the East. The Arctic Ocean in the far North. Niagara Falls. Over 3 MILLION lakes! The golden prairie grasslands in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The rocky bluffs of Newfoundland. Hopewell Rocks and the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy. The Alberta Badlands. The red shores of PEI. The views from the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. Surprisingly, Canada is even home a desert in the Southern Okanogan Valley in British Columbia.
5. Aurora Borealis! I’ve yet to see the Northern Lights in person but everyone I know that has seen it says it’s magical. It seems almost other worldly to me.
6. Dinosaurs and Vikings! Seriously! The dinosaurs on display at Royal Tyrell Museum and Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta would make an exciting stop for the dino loving kid in your family. L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland is home to the archeological site that provides the proof that Vikings were here around the year 1000. Your kids can play and run along the sod long-houses on the site.
7. All 4 Seasons. Even Nunavut experiences summer! The whole of Canada experiences all four beautiful, colourful and exciting seasons, though Vancouver doesn’t get the same type of winter as the rest of the country. The buds on the trees and the green grass reappearing in the spring refresh our souls. There are non-stop summer fun activities from surfing in Tofino, British Columbia to wakeboarding in Bobcaygeon, Ontario and fireworks and festivals across the country. The autumn colours are mesmerizing, especially in Algonquin Park. With winter comes skiing and snowboarding in nearly all parts of Canada. Pond hockey for the kids and the kids at heart. Skating the Ice Trails at Arrowhead Provincial Park or along the Rideau Canal. Ice fishing on one of those 3 million lakes. Snowmobiling along one of the trails beautifully maintained by so many local snowmobile clubs.
Canada was named Lonely Planet’s #1 place to visit in 2017 and it’s not hard to see why. The picturesque landscape and opportunities for adventure are endless. Canadian’s are not unaware of the natural beauty of the country we inhabit and strive to keep it clean and accessible. The people are generally helpful, kind, compassionate and always looking for something new and exciting to do. (see: EdgeWalk at the CN Tower)
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to live and raise my family here and can’t wait for the next chance we get to take off and discover something new with our little people.
Embrace it! Explore it! Teach it!
Oh Canada! The True North Strong And Free!