Canada is a large country.  No, I’ve understated it.  Canada is a huge country.  It’s east-west border is over 9000 km.  The north south distance is close to the same.  We are about 9.9 million sq km in size.  Only Russia is larger in land mass.  From a population standpoint we are close to 33 million people which makes for a pretty thin coverage when you spread us over the entire country.  The fact that 90% of us live within 150km of the United States border compresses the picture.  We are Canadian.

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I am in the midst of a uniquely Canadian gathering this weekend.  We are calling it “20-20 Leadership Summit Eastern”.  We have invited some 60 young adults from eastern Canada to come together and consider what it means to live as leaders in this next generation.  The organization operates a “20-20 Leadership Summit Western” alternating with this one  from one year to the next.

The “western” “eastern’ dichotomy is really because of distance.  The idea of one national gathering is just unreasonable in a country the size of Canada.  Think Canadian Football League as I say this.  (For those not familiar with the CFL, it’s our version of American Football).

These are church youth.  All profess a passion for their faith.  They are identified as delegates because their pastor recognizes their giftedness and their servant attitude.  They come to share common experience with other young leaders, hear some challenging messages, be involved in helpful workshops, interact, learn and grow.   Over the years participants report back of glowing profitable experiences in these things.

Here’s the Canadian rub.  The entire conference is in English and in French.  Sometimes the translation is simultaneous, sometimes it happens around the circle.  Last evening I spoke in english.  My translator is good but I tend to use a lot of cute expressions as I talk.  People who’ve listened to me say I “turn a phrase quickly and well”.  For native english speakers I am entertaining.  For a translator I am a nightmare.  As I was speaking he would periodically freeze up as I would say something that was colourful in english but nigh unto impossible to render quickly in french.  As he paused, the room would recognize his paralysis and suggestions would come from the audience.  Every once in a while I’d supply him with the french word and he’d reply back to me with a different word.  The audience loved it.

The cultures of the group are manifold.  Many are native born Canadian raised in this country.  A good portion come from immigrant families.  The number of women outnumber the men, almost two to one.   There is some shyness but plenty of politeness.  The humor is full, but kind.

It’s a Canadian thing.  And it’s a good thing.

I am proud of my country when I participate in things like this.  I am proud to be part of an organization that sees the value of weekends like this.  In a day and age that has some hesitancy for the future I would say that this bodes well.

BTW, we are known as the Baptist General Conference of Canada.