Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Get it right before you write

Romantic advice for the lovelorn

Love letter to home and native land

Love letter to home and native land

To the Editor:

Dear Canada,

My dear sweet love. How are you? I haven't seen you in over seven months but I've read recently that you're starting to feel better, at least economically.

When I left, you were in a sickening state and consistently rejecting all the young educated, enthusiastic lovers who so desperately wanted and needed you. Your diet of down-sizing left me starving.

It is out of desperation that I write you this letter. I know desperation is a turn-off, but I hope by pouring out my deepest feelings and thoughts I can win you over.

I miss you so much. I now know that I could never forsake you for another. I don't deny that I disrespected you and criticized you. But sweetheart, as much as your spirit is beautiful, you are so ignorant!

I have spoken to your other lovers from coast to coast and we all agree – you promised us so much, such a bright future, then at the critical moment, you flinched. Even though our love is so passionate, you leave us cold.

You said I needed an education, so I got one. But a degree was not enough for you. I needed practical skills. So I got those too. Then you pulled that dirty trick which I'm still reeling from. Your rosy promises, your indications that with the proper education we could flourish together were nothing but a ridiculous lie.

The jobs you offered were pitiful and not enough to even pay rent. Yet with such meagre salaries you increased your demands. High taxes and high deductions. Do you think we want to live with our parents or roommates forever? You sometimes have such an inflated idea of yourself.

I had to leave you. Of course, the first time was for the adventure and the travel. A passport is a valued treasure – there's no denying that. But when I came back to visit you, your reception was icy – even worse than before. You weren't interested in my overseas experience, or the enthusiasm and growth gained from it. I have so much to offer you sweetheart, can't you see?

Your indifference sent me panicking and packing my bags once again. This time it was only for one simple reason – to get a job. Yes, a job. It isn't easy here, love. I miss you – your rolling hills and beautiful rivers. Your delicious food and the lovely diversity of citizens. But baby, you haven't got the one thing, the only thing I need to be truly happy – opportunity.

Just give me a chance, please! If I only work half as hard for you as I do here in Tokyo (where my days are long and the trains are crazy), you will blush with pride. I am sure of it. I want to come back to you, but not in your pathetic weakened condition. It hurts me when your ex-lovers berate you, but I agree with them.

Every American puts you down. Did you know that? "Why don't you guys wake up? Canada really needs to get it together. What is it with the Canadian economy? Why can't you educated young people get jobs anyway? That is so sad."

I wasn't insulted and I wasn't indignant. My heart sank and I nodded, "I know."

When your Prime Minister recently came here, he was delighted to be surrounded by all your ex-lovers, I know he got a shock. "We want to go home. We want jobs," they said.

The opportunities here are as follows: work hard, make money. I make more here in one year than I could in over two if I stayed with you. So what does that mean? It means freedom and a sense of accomplishment. And it means a heavy heart. Japan isn't the only destination of the brain-drain, sweetheart. Take a peek over the border.

Since I love you so much and I want to reunite so badly, I will offer my suggestions. I want them to bring you glory and strength. Perhaps someday soon I will once again walk proudly down your streets.

The issues are complicated darling, but if we do not rise to the challenge I shudder to think where our relationship will end up. Take my suggestions with the love and care I have prepared them.

1) Solve the Quebec issue. I once dreamed of a united Canada forever, but the dollar cannot handle the roller coaster ride every time the "s" word is uttered. It is complex and messy, but you have got to face it.

2) Stop the self-deprecation of anything and everything Canadian. I am guilty too. I realize it now and I am trying to change. Instead of saying, "Oh Alanis used to sing cheesy songs, we should say "Wow! Good for her! She made it big worldwide!" The root of this national self-deprecation mystifies me. But if you continually knock yourself down, why should anyone bother to pick you up?

3) Promote yourself to yourself. Take a poll. I bet more Japanese students have read Anne of Green Gables than Canadians. This fills me with infinite sadness. If we don't promote things which are Canadian to the young ones and make it part of our culture, who will? That is our job and we are doing ourselves a huge disservice if we flounder on this fundamental point.

For example, today at a school I saw a Winnie the Pooh pencil case. "He's from Canada," I told the students. They thought he was from Disney! And as part of show and tell, a student dressed me up in her kimono. A wonderful moment of cultural exchange was destroyed when a student asked, "What is traditional Canadian clothing?" I blushed, cringed and sweated. "There isn't any," I gulped. The students and their teacher couldn't believe it. My heart again sank. Isn't a country supposed to have a culture?

Those Canadian history vignettes on television are a start, but just a tiny beginning. We need to start national awareness education in kindergarten. We need a strong, tangible visual culture and we have a long way to go. Why on the cusp of the millennium is the Queen still on our money? Why don't we glorify Canada more? It is no longer enough to say "We're not American." It is time to say who we are.

How many kids know who Sir John A. MacDonald is? Have you seen his grave site? I went there a few years ago and it was in a state of utter disrepair. How quintessentially Canadian. Can you imagine another country treating its first Prime Minister so pathetically?

To sum up my feelings, I can only say I pray we are reunited in exquisite happiness soon, but until you agree to change, I will resolutely keep my distance, even though it tears me apart. All I can do is take advantage of the plentiful opportunities here and cross my fingers that someday I will be good enough for you.

I love you forever. You are the only one for me.

Janice Valerie Young
Tokyo, Japan
BA English '94

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