Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dear Canada...

You may have heard about or read the Globe and Mail's newest series The North. Every few years the Globe or The Post or some other outfit gets it in its head that the north needs more coverage. Sometimes the hook is the Franklin expedition, with Peter Mansbridge giving inspired speeches about the sheer guts of British explorer-gentlemen. Sometimes the hook is tragedy, like a plane crash or the epidemic of poverty and despair we endure up here. Sometimes it's the majestic wildlife or Greenpeace hijinx or Russian sabre-rattling or whatever.

It's always interesting reading about southerners' reactions to the north. You know how Canadians often ask foreigners what they think of Canada? Northerners have the same insecure fascination with southern-Canadians who come north - we just have to know what they think of this place. Until we do, and then it's not so fascinating.

Think of the last time you went to the Caribbean, or Mexico, or South America, or Africa, or any other place that's less "developed" than Canada. What did you do? How did you feel? You explored the amazing geography. You met and befriended the friendliest locals in the world. You met all kinds of people from other places who were enjoying the same part of the world you were. You made a show of trying new, exotic foods. You took hundreds of really neat pictures. You felt slightly unsafe a few times when some of the less friendly, more desperate looking locals eyed you and your $600 camera. You discovered a part of yourself. Etc.

I know. I've done it too. At the end of your trip, when you are back in affluent, safe, comfortable, BORING home, you gather your thoughts and throw some pics on facebook, enter a blogpost, or send of a long email to your loved ones before the afterglow fades away. It wasn't just a vacation, it was a fucking experience!

When I read alot of coverage in Canadian mainstream news about "The Majestic North" I get the feeling the reporters (some, not all) are writing in that same afterglow - sharing their journey of discovery with the world. It's a great feeling. I know.

It also really annoys the shit out of me. I'm not in Jamaica. I'm not in the Dominican Republic. My country doesn't get IMF money. Canadians don't need a passport to get here.

I'm Canadian. You aren't supposed to marvel at our geography/culture/society/arts/etc. while simultaneously flinching at the sight of our malaise. You aren't supposed to relate the poverty you saw in my community over a glass of wine with your buddies back home. I'm in the same country as you. Our living conditions aren't supposed to be so dramatically different and shocking/amazing.

I'm not angry, just tired of the BS. I can only read so much Northern fluff before I just tune it out.

Awhile back Vice magazine got in some trouble for posting some pics of Iqaluit. Folks got upset. Hands were wrung. I actually kinda liked the spread though. At least it wasn't just more of the same.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this.

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  2. I've been in Nunavut and blogging since 2009, and this is OH SO TRUE! Finally words to describe that irritation I feel when people marvel at the discord within Canada then go back to their regular lives without fighting to make things different.

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