ECHO Staff on Canada150

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With Canada celebrating its 150th year of confederation (known nationwide as the Canada150 project), the ECHO team took some time to reflect on what makes us proud to live and work in this country. Happy Canada Day!
Canada150 Alison Smith-Cairns
Alison Smith-Cairns setting her sights on that night’s campsite, Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia, 2008
Alison Smith-Cairns, Project Manager
When I think about our country, it’s the vast land and natural environment that make me feel most proud. We are so fortunate to live within such an incredible – and incredibly diverse – landscape. As Canadians, we live stretched across a great area, geographically and ideologically, making it difficult to pinpoint what ties us all together. What we inarguably share is the land, and I think we should all feel great pride and responsibility in protecting it, from the Great Bear Rainforest to our abundant supply of fresh water. Canada Day is a perfect time to reflect on how lucky we are to live in such a naturally beautiful country.

Canada150 - John Burns
John Burns with stick, Okanagan Lake, British Columbia, 1969
John Burns, Story Director
I’ve lived in Canada most of my life, and as desperate as I always am to travel I’m never sad to return. One Canada Day memory: sitting in the bleachers of my neighbourhood ice rink, shivering over an iced coffee while the sun blazed outside. My son was learning to skate, flailing about with the other newbies, including … inching forward like a baby penguin on thin ice, an Ismaili woman visibly having second thoughts. The whole scene was beautiful. The kids, that brave woman, everyone determined to master this banana-peel pursuit. Why? Because, they wanted to join our tribe of mostly okay, usually patient, often encouraging winter-sport literates who make up this odd confederation I’m so pleased to call home.

Canada150 - Lauren Cheal
Lauren Cheal with Olympic Mascot Howdy, Calgary, Alberta, 1988
Lauren Cheal, Audience Development Manager
I grew up back and forth between Canada and the USA, and as is the case with a lot of Canadians, my identity has been defined both inside these borders and outside them. As I get older, I have an ever-increasing appreciation for the Canadian part of who I am and what we as a nation stand for. The fundamentally Canadian traits of kindness, community, and generosity are things that I try to incorporate into my life, and just part of the reason I’m proud to be Canadian.

Canada150 - Norma Larson
Norma Larson’s son Chris, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, 1977
Norma Larson, Studio Manager
Although I was born in Whitehorse and lived there for the first year and a half of my life, I had no real memories of Canada’s vast North until circumstances took me to Inuvik for ten months in 1976-77. I had heard of the 24-hour daylight in the summer and 24-hour darkness in the winter, but experiencing that firsthand was another thing altogether. Not being much of an outdoorsy type I grumbled when I found myself traipsing around on snowshoes for miles on end, racing over frozen tundra on a Ski-Doo, or flying in to a remote lake for a fishing weekend (praying mightily that the plane would return for us!). In retrospect, those ten months have become a treasured memory of what it means to live in “the True North strong and free!”

Canada150 - Samantha Reynolds
Samantha Reynolds on top of the Tibetan Plateau, Himalayas, 1996
Samantha Reynolds, Founder and President
In the above picture of me, age 21, I’m wearing the backpack that I had been carrying for the previous four months as I traipsed solo around India. It’s the same backpack I had carried with me for a summer two years earlier when I toured Europe on my own, and it’s the same backpack that followed me to Central America a few years later. The pack was small, but the Canadian flag I had stitched on it was huge. In our otherwise self-deprecating and reserved culture, I love this Canadian custom of backpackers boldly showing off: “I am Canadian.” I’m still in touch with a few dear friends I made on those travels. I remember one Irish girl (now a tech entrepreneur heavyweight) I had just met asking me if I would watch her bag on the train platform. “You’re Canadian so I know I can trust you,” she said. A generalization, of course, but I remember how proud I felt. Yes, world, you can trust us. We’re compassionate, open-minded, and genuine. How handy that all we need is a flag to say all that.

Canada150 - Adam Stenhouse
Adam Stenhouse, Women’s World Cup of Soccer, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2015
Adam Stenhouse, Photo and Production Specialist
As an immigrant to Canada, I appreciate this country’s openness and inclusiveness towards others. The variety of cultures I’ve experienced and the friends I’ve made since coming here have opened me up and helped me grow as a person. And all these new experiences have always been offered with a patient, understanding smile, even when you’re watching your home country beat Canada in a stadium full of 54,000 Canadians.

Canada150 - Cathy Smith
Cathy Smith and hockey enthusiasts, Vancouver, 2012
Cathy Smith, Art Director
Being Canadian had always seemed a bit indistinct to me. I felt I had to answer any question of nationality with details on where my parents or their parents came from. We are a country of people from a wide range of backgrounds; what makes us uniquely Canadian is our shared inclination toward kindness, politeness, and inclusiveness. That and tuques make me proud to be Canadian.

Canada150 - Eric Uhlic
Eric Uhlich with daughter Nikola, Charleson Park, Vancouver, 2017
Eric Uhlich, Production Coordinator
Canada is a young country: 150 years is two average lifetimes, a few scant generations. As a result it can seem like a simple place just coming into its own, though there’s a complexity and depth that may never have existed in any other nation in history. And yet, there is history here – history that goes back thousands of years. It’s that connection of culture and people and the work that has to go into the sharing of a place (the True North!) that can inspire me and make me feel like I’m part of something that is becoming, learning, and improving. That, and I love wearing a tuque year-round!

Shannon Emmerson and her brother Rob, Chatham, New Brunswick, 1975
Shannon Emmerson, Director of Content Strategy
When I was 11, I used to brag that I’d travelled across Canada eight times. The reasons: the Air Force had stationed Dad in Chatham, New Brunswick, where he met my mom, and had then transferred us to Comox, B.C. (near his own family in Haney, B.C.); to Gander, Newfoundland; and then back to Comox. There were also family trips between moves. Some journeys we made by plane, four were by car, and one was made in a Winnebago. As we moved from sea to sea in that Winnebago, my brother and I delighted in responding to the question, “Where do you live?” with a casual “Oh, nowhere,” until my chagrined parents suggested that a more appropriate answer might simply be “Canada.” I often still answer that way. I’m proud to live in a country that values kindness and compassion, as well as real cheese curds on poutine. And I’m humbled to live in a country with such storytellers and characters and stunning natural beauty, from coast to coast to coast.