There’s something satisfying when Canadians excel on the global stage. It happened again this week when CBC’s Schitt’s Creek dominated the comedy categories at the Emmys. In times like that, hearing the name “Canada” instantly fills you with pride.
It wasn’t too long ago that being Canadian in the entertainment business was scoffed at. I recall starting out in radio 14 years ago and practically having to hide the fact that I’m a Canuck. Really.
Even though I was creating entertaining radio content, the border loomed over me… or below me, depending on how you look at it. It’s true. Two American radio stations dropped my content after discovering (through my own on-air comment) that I was an outsider. Yes, a foreigner. A Canadian. Insert gasps here. I wasn’t one of them. Somehow, I infiltrated the airwaves and spread niceness to unsuspecting listeners. It could’ve been a national scandal.
My abrupt cancellation on said U.S. stations had nothing to do with what I produced. There was no controversial content, I didn’t swear or disparage anybody or anything. The decision was based solely on geography. I proudly point out today that all these years later I’m still on their air and those internet stations have long disappeared.
The anti-Canadian-ism continued when I began interviewing celebrities and covering Hollywood events. One vice-president of publicity at an American TV network would hang up on me shortly after “Hello” because her phone display said “Manitoba” when I called. (There was a full-circle moment years later when she was “delighted” to arrange an interview for one of their shows — since I was then based in L.A., and she presumably forgot about our past interactions.)
There was a noticeable change in attitude towards our country when Justin Trudeau seemingly put us on the map. Some might argue that the other Justin — Bieber — helped with our spotlight. Nevertheless, it’s only been the past six or seven years that I’ve felt a sense of professional legitimacy when dealing with Americans.
Canada became a real force when Donald Trump took over the White House and we were no longer seen as a lesser country. Suddenly, we weren’t so undesirable. We were still made fun of but we were respected. True, it could just be that Americans wanted to get into our good books so they could move to Canada, but at least we had their interest.
Fast forward to Sunday night when Schitt’s Creek stole the spotlight and the Canadian flag was waved during each acceptance speech. There is something gratifying about getting shoutouts for the Great White North during the Emmys — even if it was the lowest-rated ever. The fact that the Canadian ensemble acknowledged their roots and took time to honour them, exhibited what sets us apart from the rest.
It kinda took me back to 2010 Olympic gold in hockey.