Sunday, December 11, 2016
Trouble Up North
Down in America, we tend to think of Canada as a peaceful place. But we're mistaken. There's a war raging up North. A battle pitting Canadian against Canadian, brother against brother. A conflict that shows no sign of resolution.
The fight is over the National Bird of Canada.
Canada has many national symbols (e.g., maple leaf, beaver) but no national bird. Recognizing this gap, the country embarked on a mission to select one. A year ago, they surveyed Canadians and the population responded. The top three choices were the loon, snowy owl and grey jay. Unfortunately the loon and snowy owl aren't available because they're already official symbols for two provinces. Which leaves the grey jay as the backup choice.
But many oppose the grey jay. They say they've never seen one, which is true. The vast majority of Canada's human population live near its southern border with the U.S. The grey jay inhabits the northern area of Canada. Not only have most Canadians never seen a grey jay, they've never heard of one. How can something be chosen as a symbol of your country if you've never heard of it?
Worst of all is its spelling. Canadians are fussy about spelling. Certain words are spelled differently there and Canadians resent Americanized versions. In Canada, grey is spelled "gray"; they view "grey" as American imperialism.
The grey jay acquired the spelling of its name from a non-Canadian international avian organization. Canadians question why they should accept a decision from a non-Canadian body.
Arguing against the opposition are people who say the grey jay is a lovely bird which lives in Canada year-round. Unlike most birds, it never migrates outside the country. And they add that just because you don't know the bird now doesn't mean you won't love it later. Finally, its supporters admit there are no other good alternatives. One expert described the Canada goose as an unholy "pooping machine."
The poll on this subject was open for a year. It ended in August, then a team of expert convened. Last month they announced their decision that the grey jay is now the National Bird of Canada. If Canadians weren't such nice, peaceful people, riots would have erupted and cars would have been overturned. Instead, they're mostly grumbling into their beers and talking about moving to the U.S. It's social turmoil with no end in sight.