This was a speech I wrote for my class Writing for Corporate Communications. Hope you like it!
What does it mean to be Canadian?
Sure people say we’re a polite, somewhat soft-spoken, and peaceful country; we love hockey and we say “eh?” we’re friendly and our society is a cultural mosaic of ethnicities and religions. Some people would even go as far as saying Canada doesn’t have a culture of its own and that our identity as Canadians is diversity. Now whether all of this is true or not is beside the point because it doesn’t explain how we feel when we tell someone “Yes, I am Canadian.”
As a Canadian myself I’ve always felt a mild sense of pride whenever I’ve admitted I’m Canadian; but even then, I’ve said it in a kind of offhand way. I’m not super patriotic but I still know what a beautiful place I live in and how lucky we are as a country when compared to other places in the world.
When the Olympics came through last winter, Canadians got a taste of what it was like to be truly proud of being Canadian. We got to show off our beautiful home to other countries and for that month, we had almost every eye in the world focused on us. Canada set a new record for most gold medals won by a country during a Winter Olympics; and the crowning moment was when Sidney Crosby flicked the puck past the US goalie in overtime and we won the hockey game. Now I’ve never been much of a hockey fan but in that moment it didn’t matter. As a country we celebrated, we drank together and high-fived or hugged each other and it didn’t matter if you were a stranger or not. If this isn’t the best example of patriotic pride that I have ever felt then I don’t know what is.
Sadly, in the many months that have passed since the Olympics, this feeling has died somewhat. We’ve gone back to being our everyday selves from before the Olympics. Sure we still have little surges of pride and love for our country when we reflect on the Olympics. But we don’t have anything new to focus on; anything new that will reunite Canadians with that feel-good sensation we shared last winter.
However, there is one thing we have in common that no other country in the world has. Something that can act as a symbol and when Canadians look at it they get that warm, fuzzy, feel-good sensation all over again. It’s the image of the red-coated Mountie in broad-brimmed Stetson hat astride a black horse, and this would be the RCMP Musical Ride. Now by itself the Musical Ride is something we’ve all heard of and seen pictures of. I’m sure even a few people in this room have seen the real Ride in action. However it doesn’t exactly evoke this feeling of pride if you haven’t seen the Ride perform before. To watch these 32 horses and their riders execute these precision moves is breathtaking. However, for those who haven’t had the opportunity to see the Ride, it isn’t something that you should have to miss out on completely.
What if we had a series of artworks that represented the Musical Ride? Something that could capture the color, the passion and and the power of the riders and horses. It would be something that would last for generations and not only would there be the originals, but there would be prints for anyone to own.
There is a local Canadian artist currently undertaking this task. Her name is Joan Larson and she lives on Vancouver Island. She has over 35 years experience with painting horses and her pieces are so realistic that she captures the personality of the animal she paints. Her most recent endeavor has been to create a series of 20 originals that depict the RCMP Musical Ride. These pieces don’t only show the Ride in action; it also shows the Mounties grazing their horses, washing them down, and having children come up and pet them after every show. This helps to add a more human face to the Musical Ride, a face that not everyone is privy to.
Joan’s dream is for this series to travel across Canada and be available for everyone and anyone to see. She wants people to feel connected to each other and share that feel-good sensation when they see these pieces of art. However the 3 things she needs is for the word to be spread, for more people to visit her website, and for those people to request that the series comes to their town. What Joan hopes to achieve with this series is the rekindling of that patriotic feeling and getting people to fall in love with Canada. When people love something they want to get involved and protect it. Joan hopes to empower every single person, helping them to believe they can make a difference. As individuals we are Canadians but when we join together we are Canada.