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A reputation to live up to

Canadians are known worldwide.  We’re the nice the ones.  We’re the polite ones.  And to hear late night comics talk, that’s pretty much it.

Well, that and we’ve got a really hot Prime Minister.

As Canadians, we’ve often laughed with others who joke about us.  (It would be rude not to.)  We giggle in agreement as we’re whittled down to the most simplistic of terms:  Come to Canada for beavers, maple syrup, and the world’s best apologies.

Unfortunately, even Canadians are starting to believe it.

As the world’s politicians gathered to discuss global warming, the UN, and international hotspots of war, the news coverage could leave one thinking that Canada was little more than a cheerleader on the sidelines: there, but without an actual foot in the game.  After all, we’re just “Peacekeepers.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. media has always touted America’s achievements – even to the extent of changing history.  How many watched the Oscar-winning film Argo and believed that the U.S. was the hero of the story?  Apparently, the Canadians simply gave them a place to stay.

However, a recent documentary series, The World without Canada, highlighted Canada’s involvement in science, technology, resources and military history.  And despite my various high school history classes, I was surprised by some facts.  Or perhaps my built-in Canadian modesty never allowed me to recognize the extent of our impact on the world.

For example, the documentary considers an alternate reality had Canadians not intervened in the First and Second World War.  To call our troops instrumental on Vimy Ridge or Juno Beach would be an understatement.  But we also trained British pilots and took out German submarines that were stopping English supplies.  Without us, a communist regime would likely blanket half the world.

Which practically makes us Superman.  (And yes, he's half-Canadian.)

In the field of medicine, Canadians saved millions of diabetics with the invention of insulin, heart patients with the pacemaker, and epileptics with brain surgery.  It was two Canadians who created and patented the all-important light bulb before selling it to good ol’ Thomas Edison.  In fact, Canadians are responsible for sonar, the radio, the alkaline battery, the microchip laminate, and the x-ray to name a few.

Of course, regarding our well-earned reputation for politeness, we can thank Lester B. Pearson for that.  When the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis had England, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries considering the whole World War thing for a third time – this time, with nuclear weapons – it was Foreign Minister Pearson who came up with a peacekeeping solution that literally saved the world.  In fact, his UN Emergency Force was the backbone of modern day peacekeeping which has continued to do so.

Canadians don’t toot their own horn despite playing key roles in everything.  We’re much more than maple syrup.  We’re Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

She performed end-of-the-world heroics repeatedly, alone, and without fanfare.  So few people noticed.  But when Buffy died, her headstone said it all:  “She saved the world.  A lot.”

4 km/h