In the free verse poem “I am Canadian”, Duke Redbird uses imagery, contrast and paradox to confront us with the vastness of Canada and its great diversity. And yet, emphasizes the main identity that binds these all – one of a Canadian.
In the first segment of the poem, the speaker uses light contrast to show diversity with in line-regions. The speaker opens with this form of identity, saying “I’m a lobster fisherman in Newfoundland”. While we may not readily relate Nova Scotia to snow, it seems there is some experience on the speaker’s part that uses this characteristic to describe Nova Scotia. At least in the case of the Maritimes, those descriptions seem accurately made and seem to introduce the idea of diversity even between these prairies.
In the second portion of the poem there are references to the most general aspects of Canada, such as “I’m an Easterner I’m a Westerner” and the encompassing oceans. This moves us to a place of stark contrasts – especially in discussions of each of the vast directions in which Canada extends. This positions us well for the discussions to follow, one that goes on to make a variety of distinctions between the major landmarks from Quebec to BC.
In the third part of the poem, the speaker starts with Quebec and works their way west, zeroing in on central associations with each province or major city. For Quebec it’s cultural catholic foundations, reinforced when the speaker states he is a “mass in the Cathedral of St. Paul”. For Ontario, the speaker focuses on the classic city/nature divide, stating he is a “canoe trip down the Ottawa” and contrasting this by saying “I’m a mortgage, I’m a loan I’m last week’s unpaid rent”. Manitoba, Alberta and BC all gain mention in the following ways, where the simple life, oils and mountains are brought up.
However, it’s interesting that as the speaker moves west, there is increasingly less description, in fact, while Saskatchewan isn’t even mentioned,