Hello July 1! For those of you who are visiting from outside of Canada, today is Canada Day (also known as Dominion Day). For all you French speakers – Fête du Canada. That’s about the extent of French I know.
This is similar to the US July 4th holiday.
So just what the heck is Canada Day? Let me educate you with a little lesson in Canadian history.
Frequently referred to as “Canada’s birthday”, particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. However, though Canada is regarded as having become a kingdom in its own right on that date, the British Parliament at first kept limited rights of political control over the new country, which were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were ended in 1982, when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution. Canada Day thus differs from Independence Day celebrations in other countries in that it does not commemorate a clear-cut date of complete independence.
So as you’ve probably guessed, like many (all) in North America I’m not “native” to the country. My family relocated to Canada in the early 1970s from Uganda (Jamhuri ya Uganda). The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, bordered on the east by Kenya, the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, within which it shares borders with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompassed a portion of the south of the country including the capital Kampala. My grandfather arrived as a young man with his older brother from the state of Gujurat in India – Gujurat is my ancestral home.
We’ve never really traced back where our family originated from – I know only upto Gujurat, India and nothing past that. The main reason is that most people that would know that have passed away and very little written history was kept. These families at the time were busy trying to survive, so the last thing on anyones mind was keeping history. Though there are a few who have a good, clear memory of our family history/geneology.
When we arrived to Canada, we stayed in “no mans land” — well, the NorthWest Territories, specifically in a smaaaaal town called Rae Edzo – miles from Yellowknife. How small? According to the 2001 census there were only 1,552 people living here. Now to make the experience even tougher, we arrived in winter – from Africa dressed in clothes meant for 80-90 degree weather.
It was fun! Snow 6 months out of the year, summer 6 months out of the year. I can still remember crystal clear rivers, camping in the summer/winter, LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of snow, snomobile rides! When you’re a kid, anything is fun.
We left Yellowknife after a few years and moved to Edmonton, Alberta where we called it home for 36 years.
I basically grew up in Edmonton, having lived in the north end for years before moving to the newest subdivision called Millwoods. We lived in the Ekota neighborhood, then later moved to Kameyosek where I stayed with my family, even after getting married. We stayed at home for 3-years then moved to yet another area (the name escapes me now) and finally settled into an area called Fountain Lake where my wife and I had our first son Abbas in May 29, 2003.
Well one year of that and one baaaad winter we decided enough is enough, and it was time to move. Where to go? We could head for Ontario – but that meant harsher winters than Edmonton and HOTTER summers! Not for me. We looked overseas, and the opportunities were temping but decided on BC! So we’ve been here since around October 2004 and show no signs of leaving.
Sure the rain really sucks. In Edmonton, after it snowed a gazillion feet the sky would clear and it would be nice and blue. In BC, over the winter it never seems to stop raining! But I see it this way – I don’t need to shovel rain!!!
These are the only places I’ve lived in Canada. I’ve visted my uncle/aunt in Saskatchewan, never been to Manitoba but have visited Ontario, and Quebec but never been to the maritime provinces.
We really love Canada – my wife is from Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam and though she misses her home and family she doesn’t want to go anywhere else. She loves the wide open spaces, and most of all the cleanliness! Dar is hot. All the time. And the heat and mess (it’s not that bad, but not like Canada) bring bugs (cockroaches). You also have mosquitoes. LOTS of mosquitoes, malaria carrying mosquitoes. Malaria kills millions of people in Africa every year. But what you can’t get in North America that you can get in countries that line Africas east cost is fresh seafood! We’re talking stuff just “picked” out of the ocean! The food is fabulous. Nothing is preserved. I distincly remember merchants coming by in the morning yelling “Mayay, mayay, mayay” (eggs), others coming with live chickens, yet others with freshly caugh fish. I remember the vegetable sellers coming by, the fruit sellers.
If you have money in these countries, you can live like a king. But in the end, I still (we still) call Canada home. For me, it’s the only place I’ve ever known.
If you’ve never been to Canada – you should come, the 2010 Olympic games are a good excuse to visit British Columbia and if you have time, to visit some other great places in Canada.
The various national and international events that have taken place in Canada (that I can remember and have been to like the Commonwealth Games, Expo 1986 and the Winter Olympics held in Calgary) have brought hundreds of thousands of people to Canada that later decided to come back to stay.
To all my Canadian friends and family that visit the blog – Happy Canada Day!