This, the weather, a stark contrast to my visit two years ago at the same time of year, when the city was hit by one of the worst winters on record.
Apart of the weather I look around and see a different Toronto of the one I grew up in, a city home to many cultures, including one of the largest Italian communities outside of Italy.
As I browse the malls and giant supermarkets, I see the many cultures and ask myself, what is Canuk (Canadian)?
In trying to answer that question, I found online “An Australian’s Definition of a Canadian”. The definition was in response, to a news story a few years back, later proved false, of a Pakistani putting an ad in a local paper to kill a Canadian. Any Canadian.
“A Canadian can be French, or English, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Ukrainian, Swedish, Polish, Armenian, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Costa Rican, Honduran, Jamaican, Trinidadian, Haitian, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan. A Canadian may also be an Iroquois, Cree, Algonquin, Haida, Salish, Metis, Ojibiwa, Blackfoot, Abenaki, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as First Nation Canadians.
“A Canadian’s religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan.
“The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. A Canadian is generous and Canadians 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, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least – the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected. These are the people who built Canada. You can try to kill a Canadian if you must as other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but in doing so you could just 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.”
For those who don’t know where Canada is, it stretches from the U.S. in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north, is filled with vibrant cities including massive, multicultural Toronto; predominantly French-speaking Montréal and Québec City; Vancouver and Halifax on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, respectively; and Ottawa, the capital. It’s also crossed by the Rocky Mountains and home to vast swaths of protected wilderness.