The Canadian Flag at Ucluelet Elementary School flies over the youth who will carry on their country’s tradition of awesomeness. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Behest of the West: Canada is awesome because its locals are awesome

We'd never admit this in public, but we're pretty great.

I fear cell phones.

I’m not worried about radiation and I’m pretty positive my iPhone isn’t going to turn into a monster and eat my face. What it can do though, is eat the time I spend connecting with my surroundings by connecting me with the seductively overpowering and seemingly all encompassing Internet. And, that’s a monster worth being terrified of.

We chose to make our lives amongst the most beautiful scenery imaginable and we need to keep our heads on a swivel to capture every breathtaking scene our paradise presents us with. We might as well live in Nanaimo if we’re going to keep our faces aimed down at our phones.

Those same distracting and experience-numbing devices are important to carry around though, because disasters happen and notifications are needed.

I sat down in a room full of concerned Ucluelet Elementary School parents on Monday night and considered turning off my phone before promptly forgetting to.

It was an irresponsible jerk move that saved my day.

It rang, loudly, in the middle of the Parent Advisory Council meeting and the caller ID suggested emergency had struck.

That was confirmed when the caller declared Sandy ‘Lambchop’ Goodtime was missing.

I’ve got three kids. Each one’s adorable and each holds my heart in their grubby yet treasured toddler hands. My dog Sandy though, will always be number one. I’ve known her longer and she’s the love of my life. Her having vanished set off every alarm bell in my body.

A distraught mind is rarely effective and, in hindsight, the routes I took my mini-van on were hilariously inefficient. I was meshugga’d behind the wheel with no idea where to steer; my eyes peeled for an incorrigible canine who’d find any nook or cranny enticing. Then I remembered where I was and the quintessential, wholehearted embrace this community cushions its locals with.

I turned to my phone—settle down, I pulled over first—and looked to social media’s Ucluelet Community Board where the first thing I saw was Sandy’s smiling face.

“Found this love of a furry friend walking around,” wrote my day’s saviour who was entirely lovely to both my frustratingly relaxed dog and my post-panicked, but entirely still jittery, self. Paradise found and accounted for.

Living here and being true to my school made me consider the encounter delightfully and completely Ucluetian, but the truth is neighbourly compassion abounds across this country’s three coasts and everywhere in between.

Canada has history, democracy, scenery and Stojko and all that’s worth celebrating, but the most prevalent labeled were stamped with, the thing outsiders gawk at the most, is how perfectly pleasant our people are. Canada is a beautiful country because it’s full of beautiful people. We’d never admit this in public, but we’re awesome and each one of us is a key part of the world’s most gorgeous cycle. Our country is tremendous because we are wonderful and we are wonderful because our country is tremendous.

When we gather this Saturday with our faces painted and our bodies covered in as much red and white as we can find—Don’t be too cool to deck yourself out. The pageantry of it all is part of the festivity—we’ll be there to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday.

Whether you’re cheersing your beers in Ucluelet, Tofino, Ottawa or Quebec, you’ll be surrounded by the people who make this country so altogether deserving of celebration and, whether you were born and raised here or immigrated from elsewhere, you’re one of those people.

Love that.

Be proud of it.

Celebrate it.

Ucluetians and Tofitians are West Coasters. West Coasters are Vancouver Islanders. Vancouver Islanders are British Columbians. British Columbians are Canadians. Each one of those labels is a blessing.

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