Monday, February 15, 2010
Dear Quebec, Thanks for Everything
So I'm back in my hometown, Vancouver, BC, Canada, to attend the Olympics. This is a city of beauty, fun and it's my home town. I love it. If you've never been, you have to come. During the most normal times you won't regret the visit. However, throw in the Winter Olympics and it's like we've all died and gone to heaven (this heaven is red and white and smells faintly of wool socks). We're all practically dipped in fairy dust, it's so magical. I'm so glad and lucky to be here.
Currently there is a TV campaign promoting each of the Canadian provinces and Quebec's commercial ends with the tag-line "Quebec, Providing Emotions Since 1634." This made me laugh out loud when I saw it. Because any Canadian will tell you that this statement could not be more true. As you may or may not know, the Quebecois are constantly wanting to ditch the rest of Canada and after a while this happy little Canadian has started to take it personally. Like the rest of Canada is an ice cream parlor, and Quebec is just wandering around the place with one of those itty-bitty-teeny-tiny spoons contemplating whether the chocolate is chocolaty enough or whether the pralines are praliney (?) while rolling a swollen pecan in their mouth.
I have a unique perspective on the Quebecois since attending elementary school in the French Immersion Program, mostly run by Quebecois and the odd mild-mannered Albertan. You have never seen anything like the fire in the eyes of a French Immersion teacher discussing the glories of the early Canadian explorers (who were French), or the intricacies of verb conjugation in "plus-que-parfait" (the french verb tense directly translated to "even-more-than-perfect") or the beauties of Winter Carnival (celebrated only in Quebec). The only thing to rival their love for all things Quebecois is their love for obnoxiously loud MC Hammer pants and aerobics. These teachers were jumpy and could make a student burst into tears with the least provocation. They weren't mean necessarily, but definitely ran on pure passion, which you could see in their eyes (a teeny-tiny bit of Crazy Eye - from all the emotions). It was an interesting educational experience for sure. So you can see how the tag-line that brags of bringing "emotions" seems pretty funny to me.
Truth is: though I have felt jilted, I love that Quebec continues to be a Canadian province. I love that I've had the opportunity to learn french and visit such a beautiful place. I love that I can spot a French Canadian from a mile away (it's the Crazy Eye) and can then go and speak to said Crazy-Eye. I hope this is always the case and that Quebec never secedes. It's part of who we, as Canadians, all are.
These thoughts were rolling around in my head as I watched the first Canadian to ever win a gold medal on Canadian soil on Monday on television. It was a happy and exciting moment and the excitement extended into the Victory Ceremony the next day, which I was able to attend. I stood on my feet, with a sold-out crowd, singing "Oh Canada" at the highest decibel I could muster (and let's face it, if volume and lung capacity were an Olympic event, I would CLEAN HOUSE) and watched this young man hold up his gold medal to his country-people, beaming at his accomplishment. I just was absolutely brimming with patriotism and couldn't help but tear up. It was beautiful and something I will always remember. A moment when I thought "I am Canadian and I love that I am Canadian." As I'm sure you know by now, this Canadian Olympian is Alexandre Bilodeau, from the glorious province of Quebec.
So, thanks Quebec for providing all the emotions. I really owe you one.