How do you define what it is to be Canadian? Does a love of Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Bloody Caesars or ketchup chips make you true blue? Perhaps the use of the letter ‘U’ in words like colour or humour? How aboot the ability to spot and identify a toboggan on a snowy day?
We’re a quiet people, given more to subtle humblebragging than all out back slapping, so you have to do some digging to get to the bottom of Great White North culture. Calgary born ex-pat director Rob Cohen took time off his day job as “The Big Bang Theory” co-executive producer and writer to travel to his home and native land to discover the nature of our national identity.
In a mix of celebrity chats with famous Canadians like the Rush, the SCTV gang, Mike Myers and Dave Foley, on location footage and man-on-the-street interviews the Los Angeles-based Cohen treads over some well-travelled territory. The inexplicable popularity of “The Beachcombers” is examined, as is the ambivalence that Americans feel toward their neighbouring country and the virtues of maple syrup are detailed in a way that should interest Canadians but probably leave the rest of the world scratching their collective heads as to why a country as vast, interesting and diverse as Canada would look outside its borders for approval.
That, I think is the point of “Being Canadian.” In a charmingly quiet way Cohen exposes the real truth; that ultimately it doesn’t matter what our neighbours or anyone else thinks about us. (My two cents? We have Drake so we don’t need anyone’s approval for anything. End of discussion.) Like any other vital, living, breathing entity Canada is ever changing. The Canada Cohen left two decades ago is gone, replaced by a country that maintains its character while growing and maturing. We’ve developed beyond the age-old ‘Is it Peameal or back bacon?’ argument and “Being Canadian,” while traditionally structured, is a good primer on how we are seen and, more importantly, how we see ourselves.