What Terry Fox & Canada Day taught me about patriotism –


‘I’m proud to be Canadian as a result of this nation is powerful, daring and exquisite. Canada is multicultural and accepts immigrants for who they’re and accepts their nation and color, sharing its magnificence with each nation on the earth. Canada has very beneficiant people who find themselves prepared to provide to different nations and Canada is peaceable.’

Marika, 9 True patriotism: Children tells us why they’re proud to be Canadian. Canadian Residing Journal.




I wasn’t positive in regards to the act of patriotism earlier than visiting Canada.

That’s perhaps as a result of reality I’ve by no means really liked one nation.

I used to be born in England and lived there for a number of years earlier than I moved with dad and mom to Calcutta on the age of 9.

Whereas I like India for all it’s magnificence and faults, it has by no means really felt like house to me.

I assume it’s troublesome to construct a robust attachment with a spot once you journey as a lot as I do.

Nonetheless, the perfect of patriotism is one thing that I like in folks. It is a perfect alien to me, however one I wish to desperately imagine in.

I like watching international sporting occasions just like the Olympics or the World Cup. Seeing the feelings on the faces of athletes and their countrymen as their nationwide anthem performs is one thing that at all times leaves a lump in my throat.




I got here to Canada, Ottawa particularly to rejoice their ‘Nationwide Day’ right here as a part of my Should Love Festivals venture. I had no clue what to anticipate in regards to the occasion and about Canada on the whole after I arrived on a quiet wet June afternoon earlier this 12 months.

‘Come to Canada with an open thoughts’,  was the transient however smart recommendation from the taxi driver, Francois who escorted me to my lodge from the airport. He was initially from Albania. Canada had been house for 20 years.

‘We stay in a world dominated by worry..’ he continued… ‘We take heed to everybody and no-one. We’re too scared to open our minds..our eyes and see locations with no preconceived opinion. So yeah..that’s my tip. Be open. And most significantly have FUN. We’re a metropolis and nation that likes to have FUN.’

I used to be moved by his phrases however on the identical time uncertain. He stated the phrase FUN loudly and fiercely, the identical method your father would awkwardly inform you to have enjoyable when he dropped you off at college.

As we edged into town, rolling previous lush inexperienced meadows and mirror like clear lakes, the streets appeared a bit quiet to me. It was the day earlier than Nationwide Day. I anticipated to see a path of beers cans, an invisible thread of happiness, main me to the scene of the fiesta. It was solely after I arrived on the road of my lodge in downtown Ottawa, did I spot a merry throng of 16 one thing children. Their faces had been painted crimson and white. They had been totally inebriated, barely uncertain of their actions however in good voice as they clambered their method upto Parliament Hill, the location of the primary festivities. The massive stage was empty besides the audio guys doing a soundcheck. The hill was glowing at midnight with the crimson and white flashing strobe lights. The stage was set for the festivities. It was quiet however there was already a buzz of anticipation on everyones faces. I went to mattress, enthusiastic about what lay forward.


'How will you be remembered?' : National War Memorial, Ottawa

‘How will you be remembered?’ : Nationwide Battle Memorial, Ottawa


I awakened early subsequent day feeling morose. By the point I headed to the breakfast desk, I had perked up. The chilly bathe did the trick. I daubed myself with a sunscreen issue 50. I used to be carrying a Canadian paper flag that I had discovered mendacity in my room. Ravenous, I stuffed myself with Canadian buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup which had been scrumptious. I feel I ate one too many, they had been that good. I wanted to stroll and digest it. I stepped out of the lodge and instantly discover myself swimming in a sea of humanity, using on a rising tide of crimson and white, a surging wave that reached its crescendo on Parliament hill. In all places my eye appeared, from the bottom to the towering skyscrapers of Ottawa’s downtown, there was crimson and white. The decibel ranges had been going up a number of notches. There was a large number of crimson and white blow horns. Is there an odd stage of settlement on the earth that the louder you’re, the extra patriotic you’re?

The air was heavy with the odor of hotdogs. It’s the fast-food of selection on Canada day. All types of hotdogs. Polish hotdogs. Hotdogs with poutine. Hotdogs with unusual toppings like Kraft Dinner or bitter cream and Doritos.





There have been folks of all ages, folks from all walks of the world. I can’t bear in mind seeing such an enormous, culturally numerous crowd of individuals anyplace on my travels. It was a coronary heart warming second to be simply standing there in entrance of Parliament Hill as an inventory of the nation’s most celebrated musicians lined as much as entertain the gang. I then drifted off slightly to flee the crowds.

National Day celebrations, Ottawa

Nationwide Day celebrations, Ottawa



On each avenue nook, there was slightly celebration occurring. DJ’s, some guys beatboxing, man in a kilt busting his lungs and taking part in the bagpipes (making an attempt to boost cash for his masters diploma) after which a 70 one thing man swing dancing with a younger girl in a sizzling crimson costume and the largest white heels you may think about.

The remainder of the day is a sequence of serendipitous joyful occasions. I took a break from festivities and head to the Musee Des Beaux Arts, the Nationwide Gallery of Canada. All museums are free on Canada day, a terrific alternative for vacationers and locals alike, to profit from the day and see a few of the metropolis’s implausible museums without cost. How cool is that? I stumble into the ultimate day of the native Ottawa Jazz Competition which was once more FREE and had some fab musicians.



Within the night, I savour an most wonderful fireworks show from Parliament Hill.

In nearly each scene I noticed earlier than me on that day,  Francois’s phrases eerily echoed in my ear.

‘We’re a metropolis and nation of those who likes to have FUN.’

Being patriotic may be enjoyable? Someway the act of being patriotic I really feel has taken a little bit of a beating lately. It might be to do with the truth that folks mistake patriotism for nationalism.

Once I consider patriotism , I mirror on the fiercely fought independence referendum in Scotland lately the place there have been robust arguments positioned for and in opposition to the concept of Scotland being its personal nation. The ‘Sure’ marketing campaign, some argue was being pushed by a blind wave of nationalistic fervour moderately than rooted in any actual financial purpose. Others would argue that the sure vote was not about nationalism however really primarily based on apathy of the present financial system and the true lack of selection in British politics.

I lived in Scotland for 9 years and it’s most likely the closest factor to what I would name ‘house.’  (Give me a number of years in Madeira and perhaps my opinion will change).  So when the debates occurred about whether or not Scotland could be unbiased, I used to be actually hooked. There are robust emotional ties there as a result of I’ve many associates nonetheless there. The extra I heard in regards to the bitterness, negativity and scare mongering from the ‘no’ marketing campaign, the extra my coronary heart longed for the ‘sure’ marketing campaign to win. My feelings right here weren’t being pushed by nationalistic fervour however extra the necessity to imagine in somebody who’s prepared to be optimistic and supply a imaginative and prescient of the longer term. Supply us hope.

Finally that’s what we people stay for. Hope.

Statue of Terry Fox.

Statue of Terry Fox.



“In the long run, it’s not the years in your life that depend. It’s the life in your years.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Hope. If there was one individual in Canadian historical past that was the embodiment of hope, then that individual was Terry Fox.

I didn’t know who Terry Fox was till I got here to Canada. I bear in mind seeing his hanging statue in entrance of Parliament Hill on Nationwide Day and questioning who he was. A younger decided trying boy with a beautiful curly mop of hair. Children had been draped round his neck to get a birdseye view of the festivities. Elders stood solemnly at his ft in silent reverence.

The next day, earlier than leaving Ottawa I paid a go to to the Canadian Museum of Historical past. It’s a superbly laid out museum, wealthy intimately and providing a beautiful perception into the magnificent layers of Canadian tradition and historical past. It was right here I found the person behind the statue. There was a whole exhibition devoted to him and his epic ‘Marathon of Hope.’ Who was Terry Fox?

“Terry” Terrance Stanley Fox was a Canadian athlete, humanitarian, and most cancers analysis activist. In 1980, aged 21, with one leg having been amputated due to most cancers,  he launched into a heroic cross-Canada run to boost cash and consciousness for most cancers analysis. Though the unfold of his most cancers finally pressured him to finish his quest after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi), and in the end price him his life, his efforts resulted in a long-lasting, worldwide legacy. He set out with a purpose to boost $1m by means of his run and alongside the best way that grew to become a purpose to boost $1 for each Canadian, which on the time would have been $23m. He reached that purpose earlier than his premature demise. Until date, $650m has been raised.

I don’t whether or not I used to be drained. Typically travelling solo may be an intense, lonely and emotional expertise.  Nevertheless there have been a number of moments, strolling by means of that exhibition that I began choking and feeling a swell of tears able to burst from my eyes.

That jug of water obtained me.

Firstly of the Marathon of Hope Terry dipped his leg within the Atlantic Ocean and picked up this water. He supposed to pour it in to the Pacific Ocean on the finish of his journey. Finally, Terry by no means made it to the Atlantic Ocean. Nevertheless, his mom Betty Fox stored that jug of water in her house the place it lay for 3 a long time. After Mrs Fox’s demise in late 2012, it is without doubt one of the dozens of artefacts from Mr. Fox’s life that had been gathered collectively for the primary time, on this exhibition. The exhibition additionally options two of Terry’s prosthetic legs, the camper van that he, Darrell and pal Doug Alward ate and slept in. You may see private gadgets that Terry wore or used on the journey together with his worn out Adidas sneakers.

The exhibition was an intimate, very shifting and private journey into the quick however wonderful lifetime of Terry Fox.

One that may stick with me for a few years. It has been 35 years since his premature demise. Nevertheless, the spirit of Terry Fox burns brightly in each Canadian. He continues to encourage a brand new era of individuals, younger and previous who proceed to run and stroll and cycle to boost funds for the Terry Fox Basis.

So what did Terry Fox train me about life, patriotism and being Canadian?

In the long run, patriotism is not only about holding your nationwide flag aloft and singing your nationwide anthem. True patriotism aspires to be one thing greater than that. It’s about sticking collectively as one nation and overcoming all odds, nonetheless daunting they perhaps. It’s about empowering your self and your fellow countrymen.

It is a perfect, a dream that we are able to stay in and create a greater world if we demand it. Finally Terry’s dream is the dream of each Canadian. Mine too. Probably even yours?


I used to be a visitor of Ottawa Tourism Board as a part of the Should Love Festivals venture. Massive thanks to Jantine and the group at Ottawa Tourism , Tim Blostone for inviting me to Ottawa. Massive love and due to Nim and the group at Canadian Tourism Fee  for making this journey doable. Plus final however not least, because of our variety sponsors, Expedia  for persevering with to assist the Should Love Festivals venture and our quest to search out fascinating, quirky festivals across the globe.