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One part of Canada is too easily dismissed

I WAS BORN and raised in Yukon. Growing up, I learned about all the different provinces and territories of Canada, as did anyone else with a Canadian elementary school education. I knew the territories’ population represented less than one per cent of our country and that we were a demographic minority. Still, I figured I lived the same reality as anyone else in Canada.

Then last year I moved to Ottawa, in the province of Onterrible. That’s when I realized—after Grade 2 social studies—the rest of Canada forgot the territories exist.

In my classes, every time a professor or student referred to Canada, it was always as “the provinces of Canada,” forcing me to mutter “and territories” under my breath. This gives me the impression people don’t think the territories matter—but they should.

Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories make up 40 per cent of Canada’s land mass, and the mega projects that take place in those non-provinces bring in billions of dollars to the Canadian economy annually. Is that not enough to make them matter? Sorry, Ontario, but you haven’t been holding up your end economically for the past 15 years, and we don’t forget to mention you.

The widespread tendency to ignore the territories when discussing Canada pissed me off, but the cherry on top that blew up the cake was the article called “Unparalleled Provinces” that the Fulcrum put out on Oct. 20.

Sure, I can handle a few “Canada and its provinces” every once in a while—just like I can handle it when my best friends offer me some milk even though I’ve been lactose intolerant for three years. But actually writing an entire article about Canada’s regions without mentioning any of the territories? That’s like offering me a four-course meal dripping in cream, four-cheese alfredo sauce, and milk chocolate.

For a country that boasts about its inclusion and multiculturalism, we seem to forget about the 100,000 people living up North a lot of the time. If this kind of widespread ignorance was directed at another group, it would be all over the news, House of Commons, radio, streets—everywhere. People would be outraged, up in arms, and giving the finger to Stephen Harper.

The territories should not be forgotten. We are lucky to have these hidden gems, just as America is lucky to boast of Hawaii and Alaska. Americans see Alaska as their treasure, and even Sarah Palin can’t ruin that for them.

Regardless of the fact that few Canadians will ever make their way up to the territories or how expensive they are to visit, they’re part of Canada, they’re part of who we are, and we can’t leave them out.

Next time you’re talking about Canada and its different regions, just take the extra 0.8 seconds to mention the territories. You’re sure to be making at least one Yukonner happy.

—Jeanette Carney