I recently listened to a great Invisibilia podcast called Frame of Reference: the idea that we all judge our experiences by highly nuanced and relative points of reference and perspectives. It's so crazy to me that people can share the exact same experience but how they feel about it depends on the frame of reference in which they measure the experience against.
It made me think about how I feel about my experience in Canada and as a Canadian, especially with all the festivities leading up to Canada's 150th birthday celebration—July 1st, 2017.
I was born in Canada in the 80s after my parents came here as refugees from Cambodia. My older sister was born in a refugee camp on the Cambodian-Thailand border. Canada was the promise land and best chance to escape war and poverty.
When I measure my experience growing up in Canada, my frame of reference has always been: be grateful that you are alive and safe. That was the message repeated in our household, over and over again.
So when I tell people that I'm proud to be Canadian and grateful to grow up here, I tend to get my back up if I hear an opposing view. The idea that this country has as many flaws as the next. That we have a dark and complicated history. That there's a lot going on that we might never really comprehend.
"What are you talking about! Canada is the best place in the world," I'd argue. Stubbornly, I didn't want anyone to ruin my picture perfect version of this beautiful country...
But now I'm older and I know that my frame of reference is just that: mine. I've collected only the evidence that confirm my own biases. I've used my parents' plight as a yardstick and appreciate every day I have a chance to explore my curiosities and live creatively.
My point is, I understand that "My Canada" is not everyone's Canada. And I believe that the most important thing to have as a Canadian (and global citizen) is empathy and compassion. To acknowledge our biases and remind ourselves we still have a long way to go to becoming a country we can truly be proud of.
I think it is okay to admit that we are not perfect but striving to do better, little by little, day by day, year after year.
So while I'm excited to watch the fireworks and go camping in celebration this coming long weekend, I'm more excited to see how we all work together to care for each other, our beautiful country and our fascinating planet.
Below are a few of my favourite photographed memories, made in Canada. Click links to see in Google Maps!
Bow Lake in the Albertan Rockies (that's me on the left)
A solo hike through Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver, British Columbia.
Somewhere in Halifax, Nova Scotia! (Tsk, tsk on me, forgot to pack my reusable coffee cup!)
Impromptu fort making after huge snowfall where I grew up, St.Thomas, Ontario. #peterpansyndrome
My friend Adam took me over Muskoka area (cottage country) in a six-seater plane right when the Autumn leaves were turning!
Blurry evidence that I did the Great Canadian Bungee (20 stories high) in Wakefield, Quebec into a bluer than blue limestone quarry.
Canoeing in Lake Louise, Alberta in turquoise waters — unforgettable.
The clearest waters I've ever swam off the coast of Christian Island in Georgian Bay.
Cycling with great friends through the wineries of the Niagara region is one of my favourite summer activities!
Pela Cases are proudly made in Canada using Canadian flax shive, an annually renewable waste byproduct of the flax oilseed harvest. Your cases are sent from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and these words were typed from Toronto, Ontario :) #BelieveInBetter #MadeInCanada