It's Canada Day in The UK. This means going to Trafalgar Square, next to the Canadian Embassy, listening to Canadian songs played by a third-rate band, eating bison burgers, drinking Canadian beer (if you drink beer) and queuing at the Tim Horton's coffee stand (if you drink coffee). Oh, it also involves the Oxford hockey team playing street shinny in the middle of the square. Diasporic Canada Day in the Motherland is strange. I felt kind of Othered by all the random non-canadians out there, celebrating my country's birthday as a spectacle (Now I know how the Irish feel each year). Still, I have been inspired by my 9 months abroad to write a list of things I appreciate about being a woman in Canada. Canada's not the perfect place to be a feminist-identified woman, but it's a damn good one. So, without any further ado, here is why I love being Canadian. It's not an exhaustive list, but it's a good start...
1. I love that my country doesn't place great legal restrictions on my ability to obtain an abortion. Sure, some places it's harder to access doctors who perform them than others, but as long as I can find a doctor who is willing to perform the procedure, I have complete control over my body for all three trimesters. Go Canada!
2. I love that gay marriage is legal all over my country and has been for quite some time. Gay love is every bit as meaningful as straight love!
3. I love that university, while not free, is significantly subsidized and reasonably affordable. It's not like in the states, where a middle-class family has to sell their house to pay for two kids to go to good unis.
4. I love that we have free healthcare. Everyone has the right to a basic level of medical attention, and while we are de-listing services at a rate that makes me uncomfortable, I'm proud of universal healthcare and think we should save it. Life expectancy and health should not be class-dependent.
5. I love that we have an official policy of multiculturalism. Why should people have to assimilate just to immigrate? Assuming they should is racist and culturally imperialist.
6. I love that I can take a year-long parental leave. Some places you only get a few months. I think it's great that in Canada people can take an appropriate amount of time off to bond with new children.
7. I love that queer-identified people can adopt - they aren't allowed to everywhere, and why not? Why deprive children of loving, attentive parents who desperately want them because some people are heterosexist?
8. I love that, as a woman, I can go topless in Ontario. Now, I never will, because I'm super pale and don't want sunburns, but I like that I have the option to do what the fuck I like with my chest and no one can send me to jail or ticket me for it.
9. I love that we live in a country with numerous PhD programs in Women's Studies. Not all countries can boast of a developed feminist academy, but we can! Good job to us! This well-developed feminist academic infrastructure allows people to research feminist issues and take women's Studies courses.
10. I love that we have a lot of historical moments to be proud of (yes, I know we have a lot to atone for too), like inventing peace-keeping, liberating Holland in World War Two, being among the first countries to allow gay marriage, inventing hockey and basketball, doing kick-ass well at the Cannes Film Festival most years, having the largest PUBLIC film festival in the world (Tiff) and producing such fine writers as Margaret Atwood, Carole Shields, Rohinton Mistry, Anne-Marie McDonald, Timothy Findley, Leonard Cohen, Robertson Davies, Katherine Govier and more...
Happy birthday to the best frozen chunk of land in the world (Sorry, Scandinavia, no offense meant)!