Now this is something I don’t talk about much even though everyone knows this about me because I find it hard to share without feeling like I’m offending either side. You’re probably wondering what exactly I am talking about – well it’s about being a proud Canadian born girl internationally competing for my country of my heritage that I love with all my heart – Australia.
Being from the melting pot of Canada I’ve always taken so much damn pride in my bad ass Aussie background. I would proudly parade around and let people know that – No, No, No I am not just another Canadian girl, my family comes from the warm climated, awesome accented and frigging sick continent of Australia. In grade 5, we had a multicultural day and I couldn’t have been prouder walking into class with my Fosters top and corked hat with lamingtons in hand. But don’t get me wrong I was so proud to be Canadian as well – but in a country with a kaleidoscope of cultures I felt honoured to be from a “cool” place. (Now I know every country out there is “cool” in and of itself but that’s what smaller minded young DK thought)
Getting older and having the luck to be able to travel around the world I started to realize the privilege that I had to be able to hold the passport with a Maple Leaf on the front. I realized the reputation us Kind Hearted, Friendly and Sorry Saying Canadians were receiving around the world and I beamed knowing that I was part of the Canadian Club, and I didn’t hide it.
My Aussie pride would flare up every time I met a Strayan traveling around but getting to know more about them made me realize how little I knew about the country that held my heritage and that put my True Blue pride in the backseat to Mr. Maple Leaf.
And then…. Well, my life got turned upside down and I decided to move to Perth to pursue an impossible dream and I was chucked in to being a full-fledged Aussie. At first it was really hard for me, I sounded different from all my teammates, I used different words and phrases and I barely knew any history since I didn’t grow up in the Australian school system (ask me about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and I’m all over it but ask me how Australia participated in the Second World War and I got no clue i.e. bad trivia buddy in Australia, soz).
I couldn’t figure out my place. Canada is my home that I love dearly where all of my family lives but Aussie blood runs through veins and is the reason I am who I am today. Especially at international competitions where my fellow synchro Canadians would participate I felt like a traitor from the Maple Leaf and as soon as I opened my mouth people would question my credibility as an Aussie.
With time and experience – my heart has grown to truly love this country more than I did when I was a corked hat wearing and lamington loving 11 year old as I have gotten to see the beauty of the country, experience the kindness of the people and understand the uniqueness of their culture. So when I walked out into that Opening Ceremony in Rio under the Aussie flag and representing the Green and Gold my heart absolutely wept in pure pride for having the privilege to be Australian. And when I saw that Red Maple Leaf waving in the air my heart twinkled with pride again realizing how lucky I am to be those two halves.
Some days I still struggle when people question who I cheer for at the Olympics and where my true alliances lie. I get frustrated when people seem to insist on the ultimatum that I can’t love both countries equally and that I must choose my side. And you know what I say to that – F$%# NO.
I am proud to have both of those flags to my name and I will never abandon one for the other because I am a kind hearted, sorry saying, beach bum loving true blue Canadian-Aussie, Aussie – Canadian Girl – and that’s my truth bomb.