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Patriotism Abroad

by Patricia Beurteaux


It is July 1, 2006, as I write this, sitting in the rather uncomfortable heat of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.  There are no Canadian flags flying, no picnics, no barbecues, no fireworks, no community Happenings-in-Parks, no special concerts, no parades and no flag fashion walking the streets.    

It is somehow fitting for a Canadian to be somewhere else on Canada Day — Canada’s 139th birthday as a Confederation.  How long this family of provinces will last is a perennial question.  Its urgency increases or decreases according to the political climate of the time. It feels urgent to me now.

Canada has all the problems of most families.  Generally speaking, we quite like each other.  It’s just that, at the moment, poor Canada is a bit like a mother with a group of fractious children. 

The kids who are doing alright don’t want to share with the others, even though, when they were on their uppers, they were helped along.  It’s a basic Canadian principle of behaviour that we share.  Or it used to be.  In reality, the current political climate is a mirror of a particularly unpleasant social phase.  To quote an Australianism, there’s an `I’m alright, Jack’ attitude shared by far too many folks (and they may not be for long if the interest rate climbs).

Then there’s the kid who is always threatening to leave home but won’t unless he is promised a regular allowance.  Colourful and tempestuous, he would be missed terribly.

To top it off, the caretaker of this family is a chap who reminds me of my years as a primary school teacher say, Grade 3.  If I were writing a report for him, I’m afraid I’d have to say that `his behaviour causes me great concern.  He has not learned to share (see above), has trouble getting along with others and has been known to bully his playgroup friends into silence, does not play by the rules, is a bit self-righteous when caught behaving badly, and still needs to develop communication and interpersonal skills. I also have concerns about his choice of friends.  He does enjoy dressing up and perhaps that is a key to his character.  I look forward to moving him on.’

This family of ours has the same housekeeping problems as most, as well.  Some members are loath to clean their rooms, for example, and will not turn off the lights and taps even though we all know we don’t have any to spare. They refuse to take out the garbage and dispose of it properly and will not use the recycling bins. They play in the garden and wreak damage.  They know there are areas that are not to be played in but they seem unable to resist the temptation to make a few dollars from the sale of the produce.  Some parts of the garden are looking alarmingly bare.

Still, for all the niggles, we are a fortunate group and our woes are mere nuisances in comparison to most. We haven’t had a rebellion for a long time and riots are few. There have been a couple of disturbing incidents lately so we are in no position to be smug.

So that’s my Family Canada this Canada Day.

Will you wish us a Belated Happy Birthday and Many More?

 We thank you, of course, because, as all the world knows, we are very polite.

Born and raised in a small Ontario town that became a large bedroom community post-war, Pat Beurteaux began her career as a primary school teacher, a career that permitted her to travel to Australia as a `working holidayer' in the mid-60s.  At that time any British Commonwealth citizen could travel and work in any other Commonwealth country under certain conditions; a good deal of fun was had by all.  

You may reach Pat by emailing


©2006 Patricia Beurteaux for
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