Canadians garner more respect than attention
Saturday, Jul 12, 2014 06:00 am
Earlier this month, I had opportunity to experience both Canada Day and the American fourth of July festivities through the lens of the splendorous Caribbean Island nation, St. Lucia.
St. Lucians, a most warm and friendly people, hold independence in high regard and while enjoying self-rule since 1967, they did not achieve full independence from the U.K. until 1979. So valued was this lush tropical island that the battle for its possession between the French and English caused it to exchange hands 14 times before England finally managed to maintain its grasp. Now, although they remain a Commonwealth nation, St. Lucians actively seek to emulate the North American lifestyle.
Decked out in my red finery on July 1st, like the dozen or so other Canadians who were staying at the same establishment, it was readily apparent that the staff liked Canada. One of my friends handed out Canada pins which were graciously received. The daily hotel newsletter congratulated Canada for its independence and listed a series of fun events such as volleyball, shuffleboard as “Canada vs. the world.” Gracious in victory or in defeat, we had a lot of fun and the smiles and laughs shared indicated a genuine affinity for all things Canadian especially our stereotypical politeness and saying “sorry” for no apparent reason. It otherwise was a quiet and enjoyable day.
By July 3rd there was an appreciable change in the tone of the resort. Red, white and blue banners were being set up, clusters of balloons set at entryways and more American guests arrived. It was visibly apparent that all things American were being embraced. As the majority of visitors were from the U.S., it stands to reason that making them feel at home was important. When a contingent of American millennials, who were there for a friend’s wedding, arrived, everything, literally, went south. These good ole boys and gals were on the “party hearty” scene and they wanted everyone else to know. Loud and proud, rude and crude, drunk as skunks, these fun loving but socially egotistical gems reinforced every negative U.S. of A stereotype you can imagine. The resort management did not intervene much to the chagrin of other guests.
On the 4th the daily newsletter listed the same fun events as Canada Day with “USA vs. the world” and there were lots of USA colours proudly worn around the property. The menu was full of great American dishes and other than a bit of agony in defeat during water volleyball, the day was markedly quiet. I noticed though that the staff did not engage as fully with the Americans as they did with us. I asked a veteran staffer, Jose, about this and he simply said, “You Canadians treat us like we are guests too – they (Americans) only treat us like employees.”
As for the rowdy Yankee yahoos, they failed to appear poolside until much later in the day. The rocket’s red glare and perhaps lack of sunscreen from the day before provided everyone the quiet we had hoped these days of island living would bring.
Tim Cusack is an educator, writer and member of the naval reserve.