Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Canadian Identity and Why Toronto is the Yummiest Place in the World

 Proud to Be Canadian, and not Just Because We Owned the Podium


My blog has toured the world in the last month, but in the spirit and pride of Canada's domination of the Gold Podium these past Olympic games and our ass-whupping we laid on the Americans in hockey, I will proudly return home and write about Toronto. I just need to say that I am so impressed what sports can do to bring solidarity to a country (watch Invictus), especially after my identity as a Canadian took its own ass-whupping when I was in France.


Is he Indian or Canadian? The Question we DON'T Have to Answer
(Ignore the McDo's bag in his hand. Above all else, he's a Consumer first.)




While in the land of the French my views on identity and culture were criticisized and not taken very
seriously, because apparently as Canadians, we don't have an identity. But hell, while watching the winter games take place on home soil and seeing Canadian after Canadian bring home more gold than we had ever done in history... I can't quite describe it, but I finally felt a part of something. Sunday night while I headed to the library to prepare my presentation on women in armed conflict, the men's hockey team had scored the gold-winning goal over the Americans, in our national sport on home ice. Can you imagine? Toronto, along with every other city in Canada exploded with joy. On the subway there people were jammed on it singing the anthem and chanting and cheering. On the streets there was noise and joy everywhere. I buried myself deep into the library basement to escape the infectious pride and happiness, but even in the basement of the Law library I heard the cars honking for hours. I felt damn proud to be Canadian..whatever that means. Actually, I'll tell you what it means and it goes much further than our ability to score (hehe).

Below: Canada's Hero, Sidney Crosby, who scored the game winner in Hockey. Gold Medal of Facebook Quotes after this historical and momentous win: "Is Crosby Single?"


It is our adaptability to change, our lack of fear we have from accepting what's different. But more than just accepting, we take new ideas and customs and because it's accepted and integrated in society, it becomes a part of being Canadian. What I am talking about is the beautiful myriad of cultures that come here and remain proud of their home countries and yet are able to celebrate and cry with any "old Canadian" when the ice dancing team bring home the gold.

Europeans can say we have no culture, but hell at least Canadians new and old love their country. I cannot say the same for Muslims living in Europe in this day and age. My father, an old Guyanese man, considers himself a Canadian, that's cool.  In elementary school we had an exercise that ALL students had to do which was to cut out a Maple Leaf (our national symbol) and inside it write "I am Felicia Moursalien. I am _______- Canadian." The _____ was for the country you and/or your family was from. That Maple Leaf along with our picture was put up in the centre of school for all to see when a visitor came. Such liberty to embrace two nationalities and the acceptance for us to even be able to define our self as such, I would say is not emulated anywhere else. That acceptance, a value that has been recognized in law when the Supreme Court ruled that a Sikh man could wear a Turban instead of the national police official head dress, should also give us a sense of solidarity. For me it is one of the things I am most proud about when I am abroad.  (Right: Russell Peters, world renowned comedian on racial humour, of course raised in Toronto).

Canadians don't realize (myself included) that they are different or that they have something to be proud about until they've crossed the pond.  Our values, I have noticed through vicious arguments on Burka Banning in France (in which I found myself most appallingly as a minority for being against the ban), are unique. When I returned back to U of T campus and sat down with like-minded people who fundamentally understood my utter discomfort at the treatment of Muslim identity in Europe, I for the first time felt happy to be home and not traveling. That right there was when I really felt a sense of pride in my country and my countrymen.  Now with the Olympics to top it all off, more than ever I am hella proud being Canadian.
French Stereotypes Party in Paris: Rioter vs Police brutality "Nique La Police 2005"
 

 Haha, what this was all meant to lead up to is, because of our acceptance of different cultures, the diversity and richness of the incoming cultures has not been watered down or whitewashed and thus there has popped up the greatest choice and selection of food imaginable. Essentially you have A FOOD COURT OF THE WORLD at your fingertips of the most authentic sort. Because of the large number of new Canadians from various backgrounds, a gabillion Thai, Chinese, Greek  restaurants of the same sort have popped up, creating stiff business competition. And you know what happens when businesses are highly competitive and supply outstrips demand? Prices decrease!! For poor students that means we can get every ethnic food for CHEAP. It is incredible and a miracle and honestly the best thing about Toronto. I can go on and on, OR I can just post the best places to eat authentically, for cheap AND good quality in the next section.


If you want to rock the world within one city, come to Toronto.


 When we're not Olympic champions, we have Molsen to remind us of who we are...
ATTENTION LES ETRANGERS! REGARDEZ CE VIDEO ET OUBLIEZ TES STEREOTYPES DES CANADIENS. Please foreigners, check out the single most successful beer comercial because of how well it encapsulates Canadian sentiments. Very old (06), but still good. Thanks Molsen for defining us (*eyes are rolling out of my head). (To Paul, you can blame this beer company for arousing my méfiance towards ads!)




Music
I'm not going to try to wow you with new music right now, but give you some of the best of the artists you (should) probably know. Canadian of course.

Blindness- Metric.mp3
Toronto based band. This song had me rocking out everywhere from Bangkok to roadtrippin to LA and more recently to 6:30 AM dance sessions to stay awake during our torturous all-nighter! Dedicated to Camille and Shannon.

Crimewave-Crystal Castles.mp3
Yes, CC. I know they are famous and overplayed, but did you know they were Canadian and more importantly, from T. Dizzle? Now you do!

Laika (Neighbourhood2)- Arcade Fire.mp3
Forget Celine Dion, this Montreal based ban is the true pride of Canada. Laika= best song.