Olympics a chance for immigrants to feel included
By Tamara Baluja
Oy, my fellow Canadians - it's alright to be proud of your country.
I feel a little odd telling this to citizens of my adoptive country, but sometimes I think that immigrants appreciate Canada more than folks who lived here all their lives.
I was taught some basic etiquette rules regarding patriotism. When your anthem plays, you either join the singing or stand respectfully. You don't slouch or talk. And I don't think anything angers me quite so much as a tattered Canadian flag or another nation's flag (usually American) flying higher than the Canadian flag on our soil.
I would say a significant number of Canadian immigrants want to show some patriotic pride for their new country. After all, they come from countries with a well established national identity, but it's difficult to do so in a country as self-deprecating as Canada.
But the Olympics are truly neutral - after all, it's all about sportsmanship and harmonious international relations.
As an expat who has lived in three continents before finally settling in Toronto, I have somewhat of an identity crisis. These Vancouver Games mark an important personal anniversary for me. It's been exactly a decade since I immigrated to Canada, and somehow they really cemented that sense of Canadian pride in me.
I cried when I heard "I Believe" sung in the opening ceremonies. I stood in the cold to see the Olympic torch in Toronto. My loud screaming nearly gave the cat a heart attack when Alexander Bilodeau won the first gold on Canadian soil and the men's hockey game was the most agonizing game I've ever had to watch. For the first time, I felt truly Canadian.
Could the opening and closing ceremonies have acknowledged the role of immigrants in shaping a Canadian national identity,sure! But putting that aside, the Olympics were for me, as I'm sure for many immigrants, a moment to stand as a proud Canadian - not an outsider looking in wistfully.
Be proud, eh!
Tamara Baluja is a radio room reporter, a journalism student and a former GA for CFRB 1010. firstname.lastname@example.org