12 Most Canadian Reasons for Thanksgiving, “eh.”
Today, Canada celebrates the annual Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Thanksgiving in Canada was first made an official, annual holiday in 1879 and is intended to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed” as officially decreed by the Canadian Parliament in 1957. And Canadians have a lot to be thankful for.
Since 1990, the United Nations has been publishing an annual human development index that crunches data about life expectancy, purchasing power, literacy and education levels to rank countries by their citizens’ broader “well-being.” Canada consistently places in the top 3 ahead of other leading nations including the US, Japan, Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland and, well, the rest of the world. So today I’m doing my part by outlining the 12 Most Canadian Reasons for “Thanks-Giving”.
Canada, like the US, Australia and others, is a country that was built on immigration, yet no one forgets it and no one wishes to. Canadians see richness and unity in diversity rather than viewing it as a divisive. This is not just a token line in the constitution but lived and experienced in everyday life. Differences in lifestyle and divergent opinions are respected and accepted rather than criticized. This country is a “mini-planet” that the real planet should look to for lessons on what tolerance and acceptance can achieve for mankind.
Canada’s free-economy and entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive opportunity for those who seek it. The economy added the most jobs in eight months this past September, led by hiring at schools, bringing the country’s jobless rate to its lowest since 2008 and adding to evidence the country is once-again averting a new recession.
3. Quality of Life
Canada’s cities are continuously being featured within business, lifestyle and travel lists citing best places on earth and according to the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s annual survey, 3 of Canada’s cities: Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal once again ranked among the world’s most liveable cities in 2011.
4. The Economy
With so much financial doom and gloom around the world, Canadian’s have been enjoying a relatively strong economy. On Aug 10th 2011 the Economist reported: “[Canada’s] tightly regulated banks have avoided subprime mortgages entirely, its housing market is reasonably valued and its sound public finances give the government ample room for stimulus. Moreover, strong Asian demand for Canadian commodity exports had tied the country’s fortunes to the world’s fastest-growing economies. While the United States and Europe plunged deep into recession in 2008, Canada’s GDP barely shrunk at all”.
Canada’s students ranked 5th among 70 of the world’s leading countries in reading, science and math performance last year according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Most importantly, Canadian students were found to perform well regardless of their socioeconomic background or the school they attend. Further, 9 Canadian universities were among the Top 200 educational institutions in the world, according to the annual assessment released by the UK’s Times Higher Education. We’re blessed to have such a strong foundation for our future.
6. The Great Outdoors
Aside from the ample natural resources that has propelled both industry and economy, the vast landscape provides residents and tourists the world’s largest playground. There are more lakes, mountains, plains, rivers, coastline, glaciers, bears, wolves, deer, fish and other wild life than almost anywhere else in the world. You can hike, ski, skate, canoe, fish, or sail yourself into a frenzy all year round.
A quick scan across the crowds at any Canadian hockey arena and you’ll see different ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds – all cheering, laughing and criticizing the referee. Hockey is really more of a religion than a game in Canada. It’s a unifying force in a country of 33 million people that is often split by politics, geography and language. It’s part of our national identity, a rite of passage between fathers and sons (and more recently mothers and daughters). An Olympic Gold medal in hockey has the power to boost the economy as much as it does our spirits!
Sir Wilfred Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911 said: “Canada is free and freedom is her nationality” and to this day those benefits are engraved on the heart of every Canadian, regardless of their ethnic origin. A Canadian’s life is not sealed before birth; we’re born with the freedom to choose our paths, in fact the encouragement to do so, regardless of the colour of our skin, our social class or heritage.
Canada is often ranked highly in the softer-rankings like the UN’s Human Development Index but Canadians are also one of the wealthiest people in the world. After adjusting for currency and purchasing power, the median family net worth (US$) was $122,600 whereas in the US it was $93,100. The recent financial crisis around the globe has certainly put a dent in everyone’s wealth but the prospects for prosperity in Canada are boundless. Source: Maclean’s Magazine.
10. Good Health
Estimates from the CIA’s World Factbook, life expectancy at birth in Canada is now estimated to be 81.23 years, eighth in the world, slightly better than the Swedes and years ahead of the Norwegians and Finns who are usually touted as the healthiest people on the planet. And when it comes to quality of life—the number of years lived free from disease—Canada ranks 4th at 73 years, according to the latest WHO ﬁgures (despite having the third-highest number of McDonald’s franchises per capita in the world). American ranked 15th.
11. Poutine & Caesars
Unlike China, Italy, Japan or France, Canada is not known for its culinary creations. As a “new land” we’ve embraced many ethnicities and have adopted a love of all things international including the cuisine. However, there are a few iconic culinary items that have found their way into the hearts of Canadians. Poutine is an artery-clogging mix of French Fries topped with soft cheese curds and brown gravy. Try finding a better indulgence after a long day of skiing. And then there’s the almighty Caesar: a perennial backyard BBQ favourite, which contains vodka, Clamato juice (a blend of tomato juice & clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass. I think I might have to go have one now.
12. The United States of America
While there are vast differences between the two nations, Canadians understand the value of having such a great nation as an ally and partner. From trade to global activism to security, the unique benefits of having the U.S. as a neighbour is both welcomed and appreciated.
So there you have it, eh? Canadians, what are you thankful for? Not Canadian? Come visit, we’ll show firsthand what we’re thankful for!