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Being proud of Canada has never been an issue for me – and, I recognize, never been an issue for most Canadians. What has been different is the way we celebrate and showcase that pride…

It was 1992, I was watching the Albertville Winter Olympics and I recall watching Kerrin Lee Gartner’s Gold medal downhill ski run. In her interview with the CBC reporter, a choked up Gartner said that she had made a deal with her parents. They agreed that if she won Gold, they would quit smoking: An important moment for Gartner, to be sure – and one of only 2 Gold medal performances in the 1992 Winter Olympics. For me, it was the moment I got hooked on the Olympics. I screamed and cheered! MY country was on the podium and I saw our flag rise before the entire world, heard our anthem and choked up a little myself.

What I discovered in the years to follow was that my loud and boisterous pride in Canada was not always welcomed, not even by other Canadians. I recall having my feelings hurt…

I was born to a French mother (I carry a dual citizenship: France/Canada) and am married to an American (who wants to carry a dual citizenship: US/Canada). I have always been surrounded by a drive to over achieve, an ease with which to express the desire to over achieve and the celebrations after having done so. I know that France and the US have a reputation – for being too “in your face” about their pride. But, why is it wrong to celebrate success? Why is it wrong to stand up proudly and say that your country is the best? Should you not think and feel that your home country is a wonderful place? And, should you really feel embarrassed, shy or ashamed to make that statement?

When my country(ies) win(s) (a) medal(s) in the Olympic Games, I cheer – loud. I make no apologies for wanting to win, nor do I make apologies when I win. (Caveat: when I say “I” win, I mean the country(ies) I am cheering for).

In the past 2 weeks, Canada has been painted, by some international media, as arrogant and cocky – as “American”. Simon Barnes of the London Times would like to teach Canada a lesson in politeness. He is unhappy with our Own the Podium program, stating that “Own it” is not a Canadianism, it’s an Americanism. He also went on to state that it didn’t work… Mr. Barnes, perhaps you’d like to re-verify your journalistic integrity before assuming that a program that has CLEARLY worked didn’t – the goal was to strive for perfection, and strive we did with success! I also say to Mr. Barnes that “Own it” are 2 English words – it is neither a Canadianism nor an Americanism. Canada is not American; we are Canadian, and we are PROUD to be.

What has made me incredibly proud in the past 16 days is to see a sea of red and white from the Atlantic to the Pacific (to the Arctic). A country has come together – has gotten over insecurities and is not afraid to let the world know that we are a great country, not just in Health Care, in opportunity, and in freedom; but also in sport, in hospitality and in putting on world-class events. I have been watching and reading from Canadians that we are proud, that we are the best country. And, I am happy to report that no one is making any apology for making such statements.

Since 1992, I have waited to see my country rise up and share that pride. A 106-day, nation-wide torch relay – the longest torch relay in any country in the history of all Olympic Games – ignited that pride. From day 1, Canada’s presence was felt… 2010 is a turning point.

Dear World:

Welcome to Canada. We will, forever, be your Peacekeeper and more. We will stand against injustices. We will be your safe haven when you need a place to stay – for a short while, or for a new chance at life. We will learn about you because we know that if we can understand you, we can help you. We will share our resources, our wide open spaces and – occasionally – we will share our ice time in our favourite National Sport: Hockey.

We are a proud country. Our culture is one of hospitality, innovation, and leaving legacies. We will put on a world-class event; we will show you unparalleled hospitality. And, without apology, we will win the most Gold medals!

We love you!