I know this is an art blog, but I think this piece gives an insight into the nature of art produced in Canada. This is an excerpt from an interview with the sublime Sarah Polley in today’s Star.
I think what being Canadian means to me is constantly changing and evolving because the country itself is. It’s probably because we’re young. We’re not static. Maybe that’s what I’m most proud of — that you can’t nail us down.
People can refer to this as an identity crisis, or a lack of confidence, but I think the most powerful thing about this country is our lack of needing to scream our identity from the rooftops. And that we have this natural experience of “otherness” being next to such a huge mainstream culture in the States. We can imitate it, but it’s not really us and we know that. There’s always the sense of being an outsider about us, and I think that’s incredibly helpful in terms of seeing the world in interesting ways.
We do have this apologetic nature, but I think that comes from a place of strength, not weakness. We know how to be unsure of ourselves and admit what we don’t know in a way that is beneficial to the world and ourselves. At the same time there’s a toughness to Canadians that I admire. We fought against all odds, and against all governments, to create amazing social programs.
None of these things were handed to people. Canadians have been fierce in demanding the right to care for each other and themselves. It’s one of those things I hope we see way more of as those programs are threatened. A national health care program at the time must have seemed like an impossibility. To overcome the powers that be to make that happen. The fact that Canadians kept going is just a miracle to me.
Again we don’t always live up to our potential, that’s for sure, but that’s in us, and that is something I cling to. It’s there even when it’s not evident. I think it’s my version of holding on to hope in some way.