In 2009 I was given a book. It’s a very small book, only 24 pages, and although I didn’t know it at the time, this book would be the single largest catalyst in developing who I am and eventually tell the story of my life.
There is a surprisingly small amount of writing in this book given the multitude of tales that it tells. If you look hard enough on the inside of the covers there is some fine print you can read and the only picture inside, to be honest, isn't particularly nice to look at. However, the dark blue cover, decorated with its gold design and eight letters that read PASSPORT, make me smile every time I look at them. The moment I got this book my life changed. This was my gold-and-blue ticket to see the world and I planned on cashing in as soon as possible.
Since early 2010 I have been traveling and living abroad exploring this incredible planet we live on. Although I’ve never had a feeling that I would refer to as homesickness, on days like today I feel a surge of patriotism, a deep and unabashed pride that I come from the greatest country in the world.
When someone asks where I’m from, my response almost unanimously garners warm smiles and open arms. “Canada!” they shout, “Toronto! Vancouver!” Even if that’s the only English they know. Our steadfast commitment as Canadians to welcoming everyone no matter your race, age, gender, religion or sexual orientation has earned us a reputation around the globe for being open minded and friendly. Our habitual use of words like “please” and “thank you” gives us a reputation of being polite and well mannered to the point that some people think its weird. We band together and help our own in times of need like the forest fires in Alberta earlier this year and we help others around the world by offering refuge from war-torn and less privileged countries. We are a nation built on respect, we value peacekeeping over warmongering and we don’t take ourselves to seriously.
So whether you are across the city or across the world, take a moment today and really appreciate this great nation we call home. Even if you are not Canadian, I encourage you to don a red and white shirt, find a Canada day party near you and join the celebration. Everyone is Canadian on Canada day, and I promise that no one on the planet will be having more fun today then us Canucks.
Those of you that have a little book just like mine, I implore you to use it. After you’ve recovered from your Canada Day hangover, book a flight and go somewhere. There is a saying, “Life is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page” and I think there is a certain amount of truth to that. Nothing opens your eyes quite like seeing how the rest of the world lives and nothing will make you appreciate Canada more.
From Hong Kong, happy Canada Day my friends.