Posted by Heather on August 20th, 2009 to
It's hard to go anywhere on the backpacker trail without seeing a Canadian flag. Sure, Canadians like to travel, and you'll run into us all over the place but we tend to be heavily outnumbered by Brits, Germans, Dutchies and Aussies. But I have to say Canadian flags on backpacks far outnumber any other nation's flag.
Are we just proud? Are we trying to distinguish ourselves from our neighbours to the south? Are we trying to identify ourselves to others of our ilk? I can't tell you, I'm not a flagger.
I don't have a Canadian flag on my backpack and it was a deliberate choice. I don't think it's necessary. I see it a little bit like bragging. We know people from other countries like us. We all know the well-recited story
from a few years ago about Americans that brandished Canadian flags so they'd get better treatment abroad.
While being an American today doesn't come along with the kind of baggage it lugged around a few years ago, you can never really go too wrong as a Canadian. We're the polite, self-deprecating lot who can tolerate cold temperatures better than most. How could you not want to hug that and give it a free meal?
Sometimes I get mistaken as an American, though due to the typical Canadian, snappy rebuttal, I think most non-Canadians err on the side of caution and instead ask "Where are you from?" rather than risking ruffling the feathers of a good-natured Canuck.
I wonder if fewer people would make that mistake if I had a visible maple leaf on my person at all times. Or I wonder if people would holler from across train stations, "Hey you! Canadian! My brother-in-law's best friend went to Toronto once. Nevermind the train, cous, care to join me on my luxury yacht? I'm off to Malta this aft."
But Kiwis have the same problem with mistaken identities. There are far fewer of them, and they're probably all too busy throwing shrimps on barbies to travel much, but they get mistaken as Aussies all the time. I don't see them traipsing around with their flag on their packs. Then again, I hear they're primarily nocturnal.
So is it about being recognized by fellow Canadians? I find the Mountain Equipment Co-op logo on my bag does the trick just fine. Actually I think among some circles (i.e. drum, hackey sack, etc.), the MEC logo is believed to be an official national symbol.
Or is it just plain and simple pride? We're Canadian, people like us, we like us, and we want everyone to know it. Perhaps, in which case that's one hell of a successful branding campaign for a leaf, but I'm still not biting.
What about you, fellow Canucks? Flag or no flag?