The 2010 Vancouver, BC, Canada Olympics have come to a close.
There are certainly more than a few bloggers who made negative comments about these Games. Some people were unhappy with mechanical glitches. Some didn’t like the dignitaries chosen to carry a flag or a torch. Some didn’t like the musicians or the speeches. Some didn’t like multiculturalism or bilingualism. Some didn’t like the weather.
I happen to think, however, that the games were a perfect success. Their perfection came from everything they were, and everything they were not. They WERE a blend of all the ordinary people of Canada doing an extraordinary thing. They were a mixture of our ancestors, cultures, heritage, languages, music and symbols, offered with humour and pride. They welcomed the athletes and the world to our shores – for a day, a week or a lifetime. They were NOT Hollywood glamorous, Disneyland immaculate or Martha Stewart perfect. And that’s a good thing.
I am one of those ordinary Canadians who watched the extraordinary events of the 2010 Olympics. There are about 34 million of us living in Canada today. We couldn’t all travel to Vancouver to join the crowds on Robson Street, or at Whistler. So we formed our own crowds in homes, community halls, pubs and streets – all across the country.
There are about 2.8 million Canadian citizens today who currently live somewhere other than Canada. There are many reasons why they live in the far flung reaches of the world. I know, because I have lived in three countries other than Canada. Regardless of where I lived, though, I was first and foremost a Canadian. I expect most of those 2.8 million other expat Canadians would say the same thing. Being a Canadian is not so much about where your body resides, as where your heart lives. So, around the world, groups of expat Canadians also joined together in homes and halls and pubs to watch the events in Vancouver. And a lucky few came Home to be part of the festivities.
The Olympic games continue to adapt and change with the times. While some people might not have agreed that the Olympics should allow “professional” athletes to compete, this resulted in a new leveling of the playing field. The very best athletes in the world DO compete at the Olympics now. How they get to be the best is evolving too. Specialized training centres, state of the art facilities, and expert coaches in places like Canada mean that more and more athletes live and train away from their home country for part of the year.
This international trade of knowledge and skills is a good thing. Maybe it won’t feel so good to Canadians when the Chinese Women’s Curling team takes a medal at some future Olympics. But the good folks in Leduc, Alberta, Canada will smile and say, “The hearts of these ladies may belong to China, but their skills were honed on the ice of the Leduc Curling Club…”
Time on the ice… it might be hockey ice, or curling ice. It might be the icy slopes of a mountain, or the ice on your driveway. If you have spent any time on any ice, well, you are well on your way to being a Canadian…
Tom Brokaw explains Canada to Americans: