Citizenship, Canucks, Cultural Context, and a Cold

… ahh, alliteration, how I do love thee!

A Cold:

I have one. A nasty, head-squeezing, inner ear-itching, sinus pounding, can’t-sleep-‘cos-every-time-you-lay-down-your-head-explodes, head cold. Yesterday I surrendered and indulged in some cold and flu medication. Pseudoephedrine is a girl’s best friend.

Citizenship, Canucks, and Cultural Context:

On Friday 3rd June I became a Canadian citizen. It’s been a long 7 year journey for myself and Mrs Widdershins. We both got a little teary at the ceremony, (I held it together until O Canada’) then headed off to a swanky restaurant we had a coupon for, (times being what they are) to celebrate.

The Canucks  (Vancouver’s Ice hockey team) are locked in a bruising head-to-head battle with the Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup this year. (it’s the Superbowl, Melbourne Cup, Wimbledon, etc, of Ice Hockey) It’s only been this season that I’ve come to understand the game, both on the ice and off.

When I arrived here 7 years ago I had no frame of reference for any of my surroundings. Australia is a Summer Country. I enjoyed playing and watching sports, but of the tennis, cricket, swimming, summery sort. Snow and ice were anathema.

It’s a funny thing this processional from one homeland to another. I didn’t understand the depth of dislocation that would occur. No-one does until they go through it. It’s as if I existed only in the present moment, with no understanding of the past and no expectation of the future, because I had no historical or cultural context to hang any opinions off of.

Who is Wayne Gretzky,  or Henrik and Daniel Sedin?  What is the Canadian Shield? Why does Canada have two official languages? … Just to name a few conundrums. These are things you learn about in school or by osmosis as you live your life, and require the passage of time and experience to fully comprehend.

Now, I’ve acquired an historical and cultural understanding of hockey and can enjoy the game because, apart from anything else, I understand what the hell the commentators are talking about. It also helps to have a decent sized TV screen to see that tiny bit of black vulcanised rubber they all seem to be fighting over!

The same goes for being a citizen. If I’d’ve been able to instantly become a citizen the minute I arrived here, I doubt I would have had an inkling of what it means to call myself Canadian. Now I have a better understating of what it doesn’t mean, and less ignorance of how it happened. Confused? Oh well, that’s us Canadians for you, eh?


These quotes just about cover it.

“Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it”Martha Gellhorn

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote”George Jean Nathan

“I am so excited about Canadians ruling the world” John Diefenbaker (I suspect he might’ve been joking … maybe) Canada’s Prime Minister when the Bill of Rights became law, which led to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which we have today.

10 comments on “Citizenship, Canucks, Cultural Context, and a Cold

  1. clarbojahn says:

    As a child immigrant from Holland I had a traumatic time of it. You mentioned some of the why’s. We were naturalized as American Citizens when I was thirteen. I did however learn about it in history and school. My parents went to night classes and tried against the will of my five siblings and me to keep us speaking Dutch at home. We were ostracized against for our accents and clothes at school so we wanted to be like our peers more so than the average kid. Now since the death of both my parents I miss hearing Dutch and hearing about the customs.

    Congratulations for becoming a Canadian Citizen. I have a sister that lives in Grande Prairie, Alberta and a nephew that lives in Ontario, though it’s never worked out for me to visit.


  2. jannatwrites says:

    Congrats on the citizenship. It sounds like a long process, but what a great reward! I hope you enjoyed the restaurant, too!


  3. spbowers says:

    Congrats on the citizenship!


  4. I well know the dislocation you speak of. My first few years in New Zealand were an adventure, but after a while I got tired of people asking my how recently I’d arrived. I learned to speak rugby, watch cricket, have a barbie, listen to Split Enz, and understand what was being said super-fast. I became a citizen, and a NZ passport-holder, and yet I never stopped feeling foreign. Even after 17 years living there I was asked how recently I’d arrived. I joined the Canadians in Wellington group just to be around others who shared my country of birth, and a context that my adopted country couldn’t understand. Pancakes with maple syrup, pumpkin pie, snow at Christmas, Molson, hockey, Maclean’s…

    I thought it would be straightforward to come back to Canada after being away for nearly 20 years. i was wrong. I had as much difficulty acclimatising to Canada (again) as I had to NZ. Culture is a subtle thing, conveyed by raised eyebrows and tone of voice.

    I suppose this is the season, if any, to learn hockey. I used to follow hockey and was a Canucks fan when I lived in Vancouver in my youth. After many years of being soaked in the downunder sports culture, I’ve gladly walked away from paying attention to the sporting circuses. Except that my daughter has become a puck bunny who’s an avowed Flames fan (as many are here) and in the SCFinals she’s cheering for ABC – Anyone But Canucks!


    • Widdershins says:

      What is it about the Canucks? … Cos we’re on the other side of the Rockies? … I dunno! … what is a little scary, actually a lot scary, is the amount of violence that is directed towards a particular team by the ‘fans’ – as in fanatics … sometimes towards all the teams except the one they’ve decided is ‘theirs’ … It’s only a GAME. Maybe it has to do with the whole Roman Circus thing. I’m sure someone has written a whole thesis on it, somewhere.


  5. Congrats, Ms. New Canadian Citizen! 🙂


    • Widdershins says:

      Thank you Ms Susie Mac. It’s a relief to know that I can cross the Canadian/US border and not feel that some pimply ijit with an inferiority complex has the power to screw up my life completely. Now they can screw it up slightly, just like any other Canadians!!!


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