Eh Canada!

Those siblings, July 1st and July 4th,  Canada Day and Independence Day are coming up–and because I work for a weekly I celebrate things a bit ahead of time in my column. So Happy Canada Day and July 4th!

What better way to celebrate our national heritage and bring to the fore our pride and allegiance and stand on guardedness than profuse usage of the interjection “eh”? I think the title of our national anthem should be changed to Eh Canada, as it embodies us so much better than O, which merely hails our great country as something to be praised and honoured but does not pay particular tribute to it. “Eh” acknowledges our Canadianess and accords accolades to our uniqueness.

Wikipedia partially defines “eh” as “ascertaining the comprehension, continued interest….and agreement of a subject”, and I think we can all agree that Canada is pretty great. Eh Canada would draw attention to the fact that we are all in this together and we have a consuming interest in our home and native land. By nature, Canadians are generally agreeable, polite and proud of our heritage—past and present.

Sometimes I will rattle off my heritage to my youngest son—English, French, Scottish, Irish, with a bit of Pennsylvania Dutch thrown into the mix and he will look at me somewhat bemusedly and declare, “I am a Canadian”. And he is right—we were both born here and though we have a lot of ancestral baggage—we are Canadian “through and through”.

As a proud Canadian, I do use “eh” on a regular basis. It is second nature. The way I usually use it is to find concurrence with my opinion, as in “Those flowers are pretty, eh?” I am not looking for discord when I use it, and that is another reason why we should change O Canada to Eh Canada—as in “isn’t Canada great?” or “Aren’t you glad you are Canadian?

The Urban Dictionary defines “eh” as the equivalent to the American “huh?” or “right”. A friend of mine (yes, you Dave) was wearing a T-shirt last week which put “eh” in its rightful place. A large “Eh” was emblazoned on his T-shirt, and underneath it was the statement: “so much more polite than huh.” And I think that is what largely defines us, at least when we put on our party faces. Admit it, sometimes we are not as polite as we are made out to be, but when you look at the whole picture, and compare us to most of the others tromping around on this earth, at least we keep our impoliteness under wraps, and put our best faces forward.

One of the best things I like about “eh” is that it makes us less stuffy while still drawing attention to the subject at hand. At times we are mocked for using “eh”, but it is generally in good humour and as a strong and happy and patriotic Canadian, I can take it. I find that I can go days without using the lovely interpolation (yes I looked up interjection in my thesaurus and came up with this) and then it is sprinkled in almost everything I say. I guess some days I am just looking for a little understanding and concurrence—and what is being a Canadian if not understanding and agreeable (for the most part)?

Wikipedia, with its wisdom, coyness and wittiness says that “eh” is part our national identity and that sometimes our Canadian national teams are referred to as “the Eh team”. The “people’s dictionary” also cites this as a classic joke:—“How did they name Canada? The letters were thrown in a bag, and the first one to be picked was a “C eh?” then “N eh?” and finally “D eh?”. If a classic joke is one that is common or standard or typical, then I have been hiding under my bed a bit too much, as I had never heard it—but hey, it is Wikipedia—sometimes they are a little long on explanation, and maybe a little short on accuracy.

So, next Tuesday in honour of our July 1st. Canada Day, throw around our little Canadian word “eh” with abandon and maybe hum a little “Eh Canada” while you are at it.
How do you celebrate Canada Day or July 4th?


Published in: on June 24, 2014 at 11:45 am  Comments (29)  
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I Can’t Dance: Don’t Ask Me or Happy Canada Day 2012

English: Montage of 15 Canadians from 14 diffe...

English: Montage of 15 Canadians from 14 different ethnic backgrounds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place…they are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom.” ~ an Australian dentist.

Our ego is intact. We are proud Canadians. We make fun of ourselves in amusing diatribes casting ourselves as beer drinkers and puck shufflers. One of our national symbols is an ornery rodent with a fierce overbite. The other is the “maple leaf forever” (though I suspect that our love and loyalty to the proud maple is the fact that the tree produces that lovely amber nectar known to all of us who love pancakes: maple syrup.)

As a true “too modest to toot our own horn” Canadian, I am turning to an outside source or two to brag about our accolades. We tend to define ourselves with tongue in cheek stand-up comedy routines, but we are much more than that. My sources (okay, my sources were emails from a couple of friends), an Australian dentist and a British journalist see us as brave unsung heroes.

First, the dentist. He spied an ad in the news that someone in a foreign country (the country was named, but my journalistic instincts {or spidey senses} lead me to believe  it would not be fair to name it) was offering a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian, so he developed a definition that would throw would-be assassins off our scent. When you read his description of us, you will understand:

“A Canadian can be English or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan. A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot or Sioux.

A Canadian’s religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none….the key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

A Canadian is generous and (they) have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.  Canadians welcome the best of everything…but they also welcome the least, the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.

You can try to kill a Canadian, if you must, as other bloodthirsty tyrants in the world have tried, but in doing so you may be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.”

All that and we play a fierce game of hockey too. Whether or not you agree with everything the Australian says, there is nary a word about beer, beavers or maple syrup. It is nice to be defined by who we are and what we do and not just by clichés and national symbols.

Kevin Myers also provides a grand nod to Canadians in an article he wrote for the London Sunday Telegraph. Titled, “Salute to a brave and modest nation” he describes Canadians as perpetual “wallflowers”. At first glance, this does not seem particularly complimentary. But in context, it does remind us that we do not just do the right thing for glory and recognition.

Myers says, “Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to…ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.”

“Canada,” Myers states emphatically, “repeatedly does the honourable things for honourable motives.”

While Myers does a nice job of complimenting Canada, his one downfall is that he pities the fact that we go unrecognized. Majestic Canada and her subjects need no one’s sympathy. Recognition is nice, but it is beside the point.

On July 1st, Canadians will celebrate this great country of which we are blessed to be a part. Happy Canada Day, and as the dentist downunder said so eloquently: “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day (Photo credit: Anirudh Koul)

And to our neighbours to the south, Happy 4th of July ~ you have many a proud tradition to celebrate too!

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm  Comments (67)  
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