It seems as though many of us are prone to expecting the opposite of what we’re told by weather reports and meteorologists. With good reason, for much like asking two economists the same question, two meteorologists are likely to produce three different answers. Having had my share of people tell me that ‘Canadians can handle the cold’, ‘We’re used to this, it’s nothing’ and my personal favourite, ‘If you don’t like it then move somewhere else’.
Wiarton Willie didn’t see his shadow which means an early spring right? Perhaps his prediction will come true, since he tends to be right fifty percent of the time, but until then, I prefer to sit in the comfort of a room with a reasonable temperature and look at weather forecasts. So what’s the news then? February is on track to be the coldest month for Toronto in 116 years – since we started keeping records. To put that in perspective, the last time it was this cold Canada was missing three provinces and a territory, and ‘The Great War’ was something no one could imagine.
In the wake of this, there should be a common realization, a revelation that being Canadian does not necessarily equate to being accustomed to, or generally enthralled with prospect of getting bundled up in 17 layers of clothes just to travel from the parking lot to class and vice-versa. Being Canadian is about the love of a country where so much is so good so often that it is the little things, like the poor weather, that we tend to place our focus and emphasis on.
It’s far too easy to forget the subtleties of why Canada is among the best places in the world and how lucky we are as Canadians. So often it seems that we are fixated on the minutia of our day-to-day lives that everything else becomes commonplace. We live in a place where basic education is not only free, but among the strongest education systems in the world. We live in a place where war is on our television screens rather than on our streets, where the age of 80 arrives with understanding and expectations rather than surprise and astonishment.
We opine things like bad weather, and the depths of cold in the winter, yet we do not consider what it is like for those who do not have food, clothing or shelter in this season. As a generation guided by fear of unemployment and understandably uneasy about an uncertain future, we forget our absolute privilege. Success and support in school, post-secondary attainment, even something as basic as the fact that you have free access to information.
Make no mistake, I am as guilty as those I fault for falling victim to the age old trap of having things so good that the little irrelevant things are worth making a big fuss about, but consciously the ability is ours to recognize how fortunate we are to be attending university in Canada. While I might not like, or even be suited for the cold, I recognize that being Canadian is about understanding the opportunities that so great a country provides, and how these can be turned to benefit those not fortunate enough to have the same.