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The Canadian flag: does it offer the same protection?

June 30, 2009
I write from India today, with one simple question to pose to all of you: does the Canadian flag, strapped to our backpacks as we romp around the world, still offer the same protection as it did just a few years ago?
 
Most Canadians I met still adorn their luggage with the maple leaf, proudly showing their national background and offering any passerby a quick answer to the question “where are you from?” But some travelers I meet–both Canadian and not–have argued that this image offers less protection than it did when Bush was in office, and that being Canadian may not distinguish so much from other national identities in light of the country’s involvement with Afghanistan and a change in American leadership. I am currently in the northern part of the country, near Pakistan, an area with a highly Muslim population. Such protection may especially falter here, where most outside Western influence is met with skepticism, and where foreign involvement in Muslim areas is especially contentuous. While most fellow Canadian travellers argue that of course Canada is distinct in this involvement from that of the U.S. and the UK, many Indians that I meet do not see the line drawn so clearly. Canada is involved in Afghanistan, and while the country of course has distinct policies from the U.S., those “on the ground” near the Pakistani border do not seem to share such a distinct difference.
 
Of course, when Bush was in office in the U.S., such a distinction between Canada and the U.S. was much more clearly drawn. Many Americans wore the Canadian flag and assumed this identity while abroad during Bush’s reign for the sake of increased protection. But now that Obama has taken over, Americans seem to be met with much less criticism, and are even welcomed in ways inconcievable throughout the last eight years. Americans aren’t so bad nowadays, it seems; and so are Canadians, in the context of being abroad, less distinctly good?


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. marakardasnelson permalink*
    July 4, 2009 12:34 am

    Hey Renee,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m in Leh, Ladakh, in the northern part of India near the Pakistan and Chinese border. I’m headed down south later today and will be interested to see if the sentiment is any different there. Will keep you updated!

  2. reneethewriter permalink
    July 3, 2009 11:12 am

    As always from my colleagues here and from you, a great post. I’m curious if you don’t mind my asking, where in India?

    This jumped out at me and coheres with my impression of Indian family and friends:

    “While most fellow Canadian travellers argue that of course Canada is distinct in this involvement from that of the U.S. and the UK, many Indians that I meet do not see the line drawn so clearly. Canada is involved in Afghanistan, and while the country of course has distinct policies from the U.S., those “on the ground” near the Pakistani border do not seem to share such a distinct difference.”

    I’m sad to tell you that today the news reports cite yet another Canadian solider killed in A/Stan. Adding to the salience of your post. r

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