Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

Today is July 1st and we are celebrating Canada's birthday. I live near the centre of the London, Ontario and they always shoot off fireworks at the forks of the Thames River (yes many things are named after the 'real London'). We always invite our friends over for a party to watch the fireworks from our front steps. Today I will share a few of my Canada inspired work and musings.

These are from my exercises in black and white

I am a first generation Canadian, my parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in the 60's, they lived in the States first and were married in NYC, but the Americans didn't want them. My Dad says he wrote a letter to the government begging to stay. It wasn't in the cards and it was off to Canada, when their green card expired. Soon I was born, and then 5 years later they became Canadian citizens. I never really learned Dutch as a child, my parents believed that when you become a citizen of another country, you learn their language. We had no other family here, we moved a lot because of my father's job, so we never hung out with other Dutch people. We visited Holland a few times when I was young but I was very shy and I didn't know the language. I felt I was more Canadian than Dutch. But as I got older, I met more people who's family had been in Canada for generations, then I felt more Dutch than Canadian. I spent a lot of time in high school trying to understand what is a Canadian. I took Canadian literature courses and still I felt more Dutch than Canadian, but not when I was in Holland.

Fast forward to the internet...because of the internet I made contact with my cousin Marjon in Holland. Through letters to her I re-discovered my Dutch family and heritage. My husband and I have visited my family in Holland twice and we've really enjoyed going there. I made a few of these as gifts, 'From our home to yours', I wrote on the back. I hand quilted these folksy Dutch and Canadian flags:

In an earlier post I wrote that I love the primary colours, but I guess it would be truer to say that I love the combo of red, white and blue. In my exploration of what is a Canadian, you always have to explore what is an American. In Canada, many people define themselves as 'not an American'. I think that is sad. We Canadians are more like Americans then we want to believe. One thing I like about America is their unabashed love of freedom and their spirit of entrepreneurship (capitalism; I own my own business, after all). My Dad says Canada was more like that in the 60's, than it is now. Unfortunately, in Canada, there is often a spirit of entitlement that comes without deserving and a hollow patriotism that comes out of being anti-American. Canadians love freedom, except for...(fill in: whatever I am currently against, smoking, speech, trans fats, pit bulls... make me a new law). What I do like about Canada, is it's ties to Britain, without it we would be lost, and it's still a place of opportunity for immigrants and it's beautiful wide open spaces.

The next photo is of a flag I made after 9-11. It symbolized my support of the Americans after this horrifying act of terrorism.

I want to also extend a Happy Independence Day to all the Americans out there, in many ways, we were born out of the fight between you and the Brits, but we get to enjoy the best of both worlds. I am glad to have you as a neighbour. Let's have great holiday week!


Lazy Gal Tonya said...

Happy Canada Day to you! Wonderful quilts, tho the reference to 9/11 makes me sad, esp with what's going on in the UK right now. One of my best friends in high school's parents had emigrated from Holland. They initially spoke Dutch in their home, but after being chastised by school officials, made the great effort to switch to English. My friend, who was one of the younger children, never got a chance to learn Dutch and that always made her sad.

Vicki W said...

Happy Canada Day! What a lovely post and this US American is very happy to have you as a neighbor!

ROZ said...

I love the heart quilt. It would make a nice baby quilt if made to size. The other quilts are super. Roz

ROZ said...

In reply to your kind comment about my "Kitten" quilt. Well, yes, there is actually a reason to bind with bias instead of straight strips. It's because the bias will wear longer before getting tattered. A worn edge of a quilt was often re-bound, too.

sewnut said...

I understand your somewhat mixed self images. I immigrated to Canada from the US where I was born (NYC) and grew up -- except that my Dad, myself and my siblings were the only Americans - His family were German immigrants and I grew with them up and feeling very German. My Mom is Canadian of Dutch and Scottish parents. We have hopped around through many countries.
I have not made any patriotic quilts althogh my head is bursting like the fireworks with inspiration. I see myself as an American of German heritage who is also a Canadian through love, marriage, maternal rights and geography.