Jasper: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Out of all the places in Canada, you would think that Jasper, Alberta would be a rather random place for me to highlight – but not after I show it to you!  When people think of the Canadian Rockies, they often think of British Columbia.  But how many people consider the eastern slope of the range? Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, Jasper are all stunning Canadian destinations in the Alberta rockies!

Jasper can refer to Jasper National Park or the Town of Jasper. People often say “Jasper” when they’re referring to that whole area in the Athabasca River Valley. The Town of Jasper was originally an outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company (hey! My “H” #AtoZ!) and then was formally established as a town as the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Canadian Northern Railway developed their lines through the region.

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Jasper was also used as an internment camp for six months in 1916, holding Ukranian men (and some women and children) under the terms of the Canadian War Measures act while Canada was at war with Austria-Hungary. This internment across Canada of about 4,000 people left a scar on the Canadian Ukrainian community – which I’ll likely talk more about when I talk about Ukrainian culture in Canada on the #AtoZ “U” day.

Today, Jasper is a Canadian mountain town known for its recreational tourism.  People come from all over the world to visit Jasper National Park and to experience the nature and wildlife in the region.  It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Canada.

Enjoy some of my photos from my time in Jasper!

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Governor General: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

GWelcome back!  Yesterday we learned about the Canadian flag, and well, despite Canadians wanting a flag with its own identity, we haven’t yet let go of the Monarchy.

The Commonwealth

Canada is a member of the Commonwealth of Great Britain. This means that even though we have become independent, we wished to retain our British roots.  India was the first country to become part of the Commonwealth, followed by 52 other countries.

Because of this, the Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada.  And the Queen of Australia, and the Queen of New Zealand, and twelve other Commonwealth countries.

So how can one Queen (or King) perform royal duties for multiple countries?  Well, first of all, in the case of many Commonwealth countries such as Canada, our own parliament makes all the decisions and the Queen allows us to do so.  She plays more of a ceremonial role. That said, sometimes, if Canadian parliament cannot agree on something of significance to the nation, they can ask the Queen to intervene.

The Governor General of Canada

And sometimes the Queen can’t be in four places as once.  So these ceremonial and constitutional duties are fulfilled by the Governor General of Canada.

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The Flag of the Governor General of Canada Source: http://www.gg.ca

He (or she) is the representative of the Queen. He attends events on her behalf.  He reads the Speech from the Throne to Canadians. He brings forward issues to the Queen if we want her input. He is recommended by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Queen, and traditionally, the Governor General alternates between a French-speaking Canadian and an English-speaking Canadian.

The Governor General also acts as a symbol of stable government.  On behalf of the Queen he is granted executive, legislative and judicial power in Canada (when required). He summons parliament and can also dissolve or prorogue parliament. He also serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. He acts as Head of State on behalf of the Queen. If you’re American, you might notice this is a bit different from having the elected leader of the country as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston

Our current Governor General is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.  He has led a fascinating life: lawyer, professor, University president, accomplished author (25 books!), among other many impressive feats as a citizen’s citizen. Last year, the Governor General granted the Prime Minister’s request to stay on for an additional two years over the five year term – extending his tenure until 2017.

Eh?: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Today’s #AtoZChallenge was a no-brainer, although I had to be told by a friend that it was the perfect Canadian “E” word. Many of Canadians don’t think that we say the word “Eh?” enough for the [mostly] American stereotype to be true.  That is, until your co-workers point it out every time you do.

In fact, “Eh?” is such a Canadian stereotype that it has it’s own Wikipedia page!  In essence, “Eh?” is a tag used at the end of a sentence to indicate a subliminal request for an answer, comprehension or agreement.

“The weather is crazy here in Colorado, eh?”

You could replace “Eh?” with “Right?”  or “Isn’t it?”, but “Eh?” just comes out so naturally.  So naturally, in fact, that your American colleagues make it a past time to make fun of you whenever you say it.  Because “Eh?” is so much weirder than “Ya’ll”.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if Bob and Doug McKenzie might be partially to blame for our excessive use of “Eh?” and for the rampant stereotyping of Canadians:

One of my American friends recently decided to tell me a hi-larious joke about how Canada got its name. The settler decided to put all the letters in a hat and pull them out one by one to spell the name of this new plentiful land across the Atlantic.  They pulled them out read them to the settler writing the name down: “C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?” Sounds legit although I didn’t learn that in school (something about an anglicized version of “kanata”, an Iroquois word meaning “village” or “land” – but who knows…).

It’s easy to see how accent tags can spread and become so popular. The more people use them, the more others subconsciously start to use them as well.  I’ve experienced this first hand here in Colorado. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve noticed that if you say “Sorry” to someone (another Canadian stereotype!) the response isn’t “That’s okay” or “No problem”; it’s “You’re fine”. It was the weirdest response, but now after 3 years in Colorado, I actually find myself saying it to others as well!  I don’t even think about it and I can’t control it!

So, sure, “Eh?” is a Canadianism. We can’t deny it although we try to, but apparently the term is slowly being replaced by urban youth with other tags, such as “Right?” or “You know?”

I guess as an older generation Canadian (can’t believe I’m saying that), “Eh?” will stay in my vocabulary for a while…