I hope everyone had a safe and happy Canada Day Long Weekend. The rainy weather in Cold Lake resulted in more of an indoor celebration. However, it also allowed me to reflect on everything I have to be grateful for, being a citizen of this amazing country. As a fifth generation Canadian, I often take for granted all the great opportunities that I have been afforded being Canadian. So in this blog post, I thought I would share all that I am grateful for, my Ode to Canada if you wish.
Canadians are very fortunate in that the majority of us can take advantage of having a high school education, and graduating with our grade 12. People in other countries, often only completing up to grade 8, if they can attend school. Education is even more of a luxury for women in other countries. As a woman growing up in Canada, I have not only been allowed to attend public education safely but also I have been able to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Sciences, and plan to one day attain my Master’s. Not once during my academic career, have I been threatened or made to feel like I didn’t belong there. Many other countries don’t allow women to attend any form of education beyond the very basics; be it because of financial reasons (girls are required to go to work to help bring in an income), cultural roles (marrying at young age, having to look after younger siblings, etc.), or legal reasons (it being illegal for girls to attend school). I owe a lot to my education. From how I come to my informed opinions, to how I approach hurdles in my everyday life, I would not have these if it weren’t for Canada’s education system.
So far in my working career, which I’ll be the first say is quite diverse, I have had the opportunity to work in many different fields, many of which would not be considered a traditionally female profession. During university, I worked as a labourer, welder’s helper and pipe fitter’s helper in the Alberta Oil Fields, to help pay for my schooling. Some of that time, I spent living in Camp. I was never evaluated based on my gender, but rather by how hard I worked and if I completed my jobs in a timely manner. If anything, by the end of the summer, many of my male coworkers were like family to me; cheering me on at UBC from the oil fields. After graduating, I began my heavy equipment technician apprenticeship. In both shops that I worked in, I was the only female mechanic there wrenching on the trucks. Not once during the hiring process was I questioned about being a woman. I was just another HET apprentice. My most recent non-traditional role, Assistant Fish Culturist. I was the only female on site at the Hatchery, and many of my tasks were very physical. From packing and placing fishing nets for fish capture, to carrying fish and water in packs up steep hills, to lifting stop gates at the end of the fish ponds. Again, I was treated based on how hard I worked and left at the end of my contract with yet another work family. Many of these jobs, I dove into head first because of my interest in them, I may not have been allowed to even think about pursuing if I lived in another country.
One luxury that many Canadians enjoy, myself included, is the ability to travel, uninhibited, too many countries around the world. Many countries, Canadians only need to show up with their passport, and we are granted assess. Others, we fill out a form, and we are given a visa to visit. Also, just by being Canadian, in these foreign countries, you are greeted with a special level of hospitality. Almost like you are a long lost relative. In addition to other countries rolling out the welcome mat to Canadians, the majority of us, as Canadians, can afford to travel at some point in our lives due to our strong economy and being paid a higher living wage.
For those that know me, know I grew up being told by my Grandma, “Anything boys can do, girls can do just as well, if not better.” And because of this upbringing, some of my hobbies and activities involved me becoming “one of the boys”. Drag Racing was one of these sports. Since Erica Enders and her sister were the first girls in Jr. Drag Racing, more and more girls have joined the ranks. That being said, it is still only about 40/60 of girls to boys competing in the sport. In fact, living in Canada not only I fortunate to race cars competitively, but being a woman, I have the right to drive a vehicle (some countries do not allow women to hold a driver’s license). In fact, many sports that I enjoy today and grew up participating in, other countries either deter or outright ban women from participating in, including dirt biking, mountain biking, and competitive swimming (a one-piece swimsuit is considered too revealing). Even pageantry is discouraged as it felt to focus too much on Vanity, despite how pageants are so much more.
So, in short, I am incredibly proud and blessed to be a Canadian. Even if some times I take it for granted. We are truly fortunate to live in a beautiful and free country. We, as Canadians, can love whomever we wish; participate in a variety of activities, hobbies and pastimes (lawfully); pursue a variety of careers and ambitions; have a free choice in religion and beliefs. We can travel far and wide, knowing that we have this magnificent home to return to. And wh that I’d like to say, “Happy 152nd Birthday, Canada. Here’s to many more!”