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Here in Canada we are a proud people with a wonderful country in so many ways. Yet, we often don’t speak about that. We certainly don’t brag about it. We often celebrate all that it means to be Canadian and be blessed enough to live in the culturally majestic mosaic that is the pulsating heart of all that Canada is and exemplifies. Our rich and diverse people. The tapestry that Canada is. Oh Canada!

The Vancouver Olympics, unfolding now, and specifically the opening ceremonies, reminded this Canadian just how vibrant and alive my pride in Canada is. Hopefully it has reminded all of us that we have so much to be proud about.

I have not ever sat through an entire opening ceremony of any Olympic Games before in my life. I’m not sure why. Perhaps they are just too long. And I am equally unsure as to why I cleared my schedule last Friday night, February 12, 2010, and wanted to watch it alone. I had read only moments before I was getting off line, what an “emotional” show they promised. Now, you have to realize, I am not usually into these types of shows – just the sports.

Well, breathless and weepy with pride and joy was I. I was so emotional. The opening ceremony for the Vancouver Olympics was outstanding. Oh, a few parts were confusing, sure. It dragged a little here and there, in what proved to be the necessary lulls that would then see us drawn back in emotionally by the next offering.

We have so many talented entertainers from this wonderful country. They were all great. However, who could ever top k.d. lang’s version of Leonard Cohen’s wonderful song, “Hallelujah”? It’s one of my favourites. Her voice is one of the all-time best. The inclusion of native Canadians was so fitting. I was glad to see that. I enjoyed the way they welcomed the world to these Games.

Just when my emotions were what I thought was as swelled as possible with pride for my country, the next thing you know, along came a poet, with an amazing way of describing our fantastic country to the world. It was awesome! And it was cause for even a more heightened experience of emotion and pride. Where do we hide these feelings in our everyday lives? I think we need to feel them more often.

My absolute favourite part of the entire ceremony was poet Shane Koyczan performing his astoundly brilliant and passionate poem, “We are More”.  It was such a fitting tribute to Canada in a way I think that put us, as Canadians, in touch with our pride and the wonderment of all Canada truly is. Hopefully Koyczan’s poem also gave everyone watching from other countries around the world a feel for what it is that we have quietly and humbly known and lived with our entire  lives – this rarely verbalized splendor at all that we have been blessed with in all that Canada uniquely is.

I must say I liked poet Shane Koyczan’s style of delivery of his poem, “We Are More”, just the way he did it in the opening ceremony. He had a little more time, he spoke a little more slowly than he does in the video above (made sometime before these Olympics).  However, after watching him a couple times in this video where his meter is quicker and his style is more hip-hop/rap/slam delivery it is growing on me too.

In imparting my emotional re-acquaintance with my pride in being a Canadian and my pride for this wonderful Canada that I was blessed to be born in,  I want to include here my condolences to the family, team-mates, and friends of the Olympic athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who lost his life in preparing for the Olympic luge competition.

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died Friday in a horrific crash in an Olympic training run at Whistler, B.C., just hours before the Games opening ceremony. And, to all who knew him and loved him who had to suffer the indiginity also of the video of his death being broadcast on televison. I saw it and I didn’t mean to watch it, it happened so fast, I didn’t look away in time. Part of me wanted to look away, out of respect. Part of me wanted to watch to stop and observe his tragic passing in a way that didn’t avoid what had happened. Still, I don’t think it should have been shown. I only watched that one time. Other times I turned the channel because really, it was sensationalizing this young man’s death. It felt like intruding upon something that was not only tragic but that deserved to be much more private. As a proud Canadian there are no words to express the depth of my sorrow that Nodar Kumaritashvili died in attempting to fulfill his Olympic dream.

 Also, important here to remember the late Jack Poole, who was the Vancouver Olympic chairman. He  played such an important part in Vancouver’s Olympic bid and organzing committee and who did not live to see the games he cared so much about and worked so hard for.

Congratulations to Vancouver 2010 CEO John Furlong. He accomplished his stated mission to make these Olympic games be something for all Canadians and not just some. From the longest ever torch-run in history across our very large land to the opening ceremonies I felt like I was a small part of it all just because I watched. I hope each and every Canadian also feels that way. I also thought that the inclusion in carrying in the Olympic Flag and torch and lighting the indoor and outdoor flames that included Wayne Gretzkey, Steve Nash, Betty Fox, Donald Sutherland, Anne Murray, Bobby Orr, Catrina LeMay-Doan, Rick Hanson, and others was a great and fitting group of outstanding Canadians.

Canadians are a proud yet humble and quiet people when it comes to talking about themselves. However, last Friday, we made the opening cermonies of the Olympic Games in Vancouver the  most-watched television show in Canadian history.

Broadcast officials report that 13.3 million Canadians watched all the entire three-hour ceremony, eclipsing the previous record of 10.3 million for the gold medal hockey game Canada and the United States at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002. Maybe if our Men’s Olympic Hockey Team gets to that coveted gold medal game this year we’ll spur on even higher ratings. Let’s hope so!

About 23 million Canadians watched some part of Friday night’s ceremonies, which aired across the country in English, French and several aboriginal languages. The Vancouver Olympics are being broadcast by a consortium of CTV Inc., Canada’s largest private network, and Rogers Media. The consortium outbid the government-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which had broadcast the five previous Olympics. And so far the coverage is terrific. It’s great to watch many of the newscasters and sports show hosts that I watch on many different networks all working together and my favourite Canadian National Newspaper, The Globe and Mail, doing a bang-up job of reporting as well.

We are a large country geographically with a population of 33 million. Proud, and still waiting for one of our Olympic athletes to win the first ever gold medal for Canada on our soil. This is our third ever games and hopefully we will get that first ever gold on Canadian soil and then some.

We have been reminded of just how much we are blessed and just how unique a country we really do have. Let’s remember to feel that pride a little more often. In fact, it seems that we leave the sharing of those emotions, all-too-often, to our passionate following of our beloved hockey heroes. Hockey in Canada is a passion, a religion, a way of life, yes, but we do indeed have so much more to be so proud about.

Oh Canada! Canadian pride eh – and on display for the world to see. Now that’s a common-rarity.

© A.J. Mahari, February 14, 2010 – All rights reserved.

2010 Olympics Renew Expression of Canadian Pride in Canada and In Being Canadian