Saturday, January 25, 2014


According to the OECD, (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development-an international economic organization of 34 countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade), Canada is among the best places in the world to live, but we already knew that didn’t we. Their “Better Life Index” finds Canada among the leaders in most of the twenty-four indicators measured. The indicators include Jobs, Community, Education, Environment, Governance, Health, Life Satisfaction, Safety and Work-Life Balance. In fact, Canada ranks third behind only Australia and Sweden. Not too shabby, eh?

            I happened to read the article about the OECD rankings the day after CBC Television's Hockey Day in Canada celebrated Canada's national sport and  a week after our local skating stars Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers qualified for a spot on the 2014 Canadian Winter Olympic Figure Skating Team representing Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia in a few weeks. I was already welling up with local and national pride so the OECD announcement was just icing on the cake.

            Since 2000 the CBC's Hockey Day in Canada has celebrated the game of hockey and its connection to our country and culture. Like so many other Canadians, my introduction to the game of hockey came through my parents love of the game and the Saturday night broadcasts on CBC television. The grainy black and white images came into our living room while the whole household tuned in week after week every winter. In fact, I don't think I can actually remember life before hockey.

            Being a prairie farm boy my Dad grew up playing the game in northern Saskatchewan and my brother Jack, the oldest in the family and fifteen years my senior, grew up playing the game, too, so there was little chance that my other brother, Gord, who is eighteen months older than me, and I would grow up without hockey in our lives. We played it on the outdoor and indoor rinks, the streets, both winter and summer, in the school gymnasium, in the basement and when we weren't physically playing the game in those places we were playing our table-top version of the game with the same intensity that we brought to the real versions. It was always hockey, hockey, hockey.

            The last time I actually played in a hockey game, though, was about four years ago in the Dale Blackstock Memorial Rec Tournament and during the course of the weekend both of my skates broke. I was thinking...hmmm...that could be a sign. Then a few months later I herniated a disc in my lower back and that sign was a little more emphatic so I haven't played since the fall of '09.

            Although my back recuperation has not worked out as well as I had hoped it would I gladly accepted a new pair of skates as a birthday gift last month and I'm thinking that I might not be done with the old game of hockey just yet.

            Hockey is only one of the many aspects of life in Canada that makes it such a great place to live and I didn't really need an OECD Better Life Index report to tell me that we've got a pretty good thing going on here in The Great White North but it's always nice to hear it anyway.

            "Every day is a great day for hockey."-Mario Lemieux (1965-).

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