Canada: The Story of Us (As Told by Canadian Celebrities)

CBC TV has recently begun airing a new documentary called Canada: The Story of Us. It starts out with a medium close-up of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's face talking about co-operation and acceptance, again, followed by majestic forests and CGI geese flying north. There's a lot of water, mountains and trees - many, many trees. Then, something odd happens. One doesn't expect anything but the official line here, especially since the film was introduced by the PM himself, so we're thinking this doc isn't going to be controversial. Fine. Then it happens, a medium close-up of Sook-Yin Lee appears, dark eyes, nice smile, and she talks about Canada. Then, it hits me: Why is Sook-Yin Lee telling me this? She has no personal connection to the information at all. Essentially, a celebrity is teaching me history?  A Story about Us as Told by Celebrities. Not cool at all.

Canada will be turning 150 years old this July 1st. As John Doyle from the Globe and Mail suggests, that's not a lot of years compared to whom we're sharing the world with.  We're a nation of immigrants and that's why we've become so powerful in regional markets and abroad. However, it's also important to pay respect to the pillars that founded the nation - aboriginals, French, English and beavers. It's an epic battle over the fur trade, that's right, our country got its start in the fashion industry in Europe.

Back to Sook-Yin Lee. I remember Sook-Yin Lee from when she hosted at MuchMusic. She was cool, hip and pleasing to look at. We all loved her. She's had an interesting career and has reincarnated as a CBC radio host. Now, back to the documentary. To be honest and real, she didn't have much a speaking role, maybe a half minute, but, in truth, I was alluding to the technique used by CBC to tell Canada's story. I like Sook-Yin Lee, but don't want her telling our history. Sorry Sook-Yin. It's nothing personal. Take a look at the title. Us. This technique, at least so far, involves using arts industry professionals with okay production values to spell out the Canadian narrative. Word. Combine the narration of the film, followed by okay productions values and snippets from industry professionals,  and one could snarkily describe Canada: The Story of Us in these four lettered words: Drunk History Without Alcohol.

The Fur Trade Fed Us
So, along with Sook-Yin Lee, be ready for the likes of Christopher Plummer, Paul Gross and Adrienne Clarkson, all big shots in the industry, well-deserved, as they have sincerely accomplished wonders in their field and left us with lasting works to please. But, that's not important because it's a story of us. The plummers, doctors, lawyers, mom and dads, cashiers - the real people which is where the real story comes from.

But it's more than that. For this story to work, it needs to transport ordinary Canadians into action that happened, well, a hundred and fifty years ago and beyond. Is that possible? I have to admit, when I read about the fur trade, I don't think about entrepreneurialism and innovation which is what they alluded to in the doc. Wrong group. I usually think about economic systems in the world back then. We can't get into details, just broad strokes, but that might have been a good time for a Dragon's Den character to show up, not an ordinary person, but a show about them at least.

It's hard to know who could transport ordinary Canadians into the story, but the people they've chosen aren't a good fit. This story is about us, so who among us, can help us understand the true north ordinary experience of Canada from today and yesterday?

 Why don't you take the train?

  Canada: The Story about Us (as Told by Canadian Celebrities)
Written by Michael Falcone

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