I just read an online article about how Canada is perceived around the world, as experienced by longer term expats and their opinions didn't really surprise me. I've experienced the same thing.
I think that Canadians as a whole might have a slightly different skew on what the world thinks of us, as a whole. Sometimes I feel like we sit in a bubble that was built in the last century and are so dazzled by the gleaming arc of it that we haven't realized that it isn't real. Sure, we're still seen, for the most part, as the polite, slightly goofy and definitely unimportant little sibling of the United States, especially those reliant on our tourist dollars.
The fact is that we aren't widely thought about at all, unless some news worthy tragedy happens, such as the attack on parliament hill or our curious absence from the Kyoto agreement.
When we are thought of it isn't always the polite stereotype that come to mind. Our image is getting tarnished and that's the truth. To others in the know we are, at worst, US lap dogs and at our best still favoured above our neighbours to the south.We're no longer known for keeping the peace or solid ethics; a moral compass for the first world, and that, kids, is sad. We've locked down our borders to new comers, including tourists. Some people actually have to put up a bond to even visit Canada and the amount can be staggering. I've heard it can be over $20,000 per person - to visit. This to me is complete insanity.What has happened to our mosaic? Vancouver doesn't have some of the best food in the world because Canada was xenophobic - no. Where are we in Syria, where there's a humanitarian crisis? Why are we turning away people desperate for the very basics of human existence? Why are we ignoring the aboriginal population, some of whom live in third world style poverty?
This is not my Canada; at least the one that defined me as I grew to adulthood. (Which might explain why I'm currently elsewhere.)
My Canada is a country of opportunity. We're all immigrants to our once great nation (and yes I'm talking to you too, aboriginals...granted you were indisputably the first here, but you still came from somewhere else originally). We are a nation of peace keepers, of rational and compassionate voices; we allow for differences and that allowance is what binds us together and makes us one people. (Ironic, right?) We are the model of how to get along and play nicely. That is how I see us in my heart.
I really believe that we can be that again, but we have to put away the fear that has been carefully and purposefully cultivated in us. We all know that there is bad in the world, but there is much more goodness and that's the side we want to be on. We don't want to be the scary old man barred up in his house that mutters to himself and threatens people who knock on his door. We want to be that sunny neighbour that brings over cookies when someone new moves in next door; that is there, helping shovel the sidewalk or lending a cup of sugar. Those three things requires us to open our doors and be proactive about what is going on around us. Of course it might entail a call to the police because something creepy is going next door with the little kids or about the mysterious digging in the backyard in the middle of the night. My point is that we can choose to do the right thing; not the easy thing or the thing that makes us feel less scared.
We can be Canadian again.