Mansbridge reflects on what it means to be Canadian 

CBC new anchor has spent his career trying to answer that question

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Mansbridge used most of his time to discuss what it means to be a Canadian, something that eludes any kind of definition. And so he did what he does best, telling recent stories that he believes sum up the Canadian identity.

The first story took place in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami that killed over 200,000 people. Mansbridge was broadcasting outside of a village that had been destroyed when his camera crew was approached my local children. A girl saw the Canada flag pin on Mansbridge's vest and said "Canada good." Mansbridge wanted to know why she said that, and through an interpreter discovered that three Canadian nurses from Vancouver were inoculating villagers nearby. They were not in Sri Lanka with any of the aid organizations working there but had spent their own money and taken leave from work to travel to Sri Lanka to help out.

The next story involved the 60 th anniversary of the liberation of The Netherlands from the Nazi's in WWII, an operation that was led by Canadian troops.

"There were 250,000 people lining the streets of this town, 10 to 15 deep, cheering and waving Canadian flags for these veterans that were marching through the streets of Lapthorne," Mansbridge recalled. "We forget that Canadians were a force in liberating the Netherlands, but over there they don't forget, they never forget."

Mansbridge asked a woman with a little boy on her shoulders why they were their. She answered: "Because I want him to know what a Canadian is."

"All my professional career I've been trying to answer that question, what a Canadian is. All these constitutional crises, the Mulroney years with Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord, the Quebec referendum... and nobody had the answer. But this woman knew, and she wanted to teach her son.

"These young guys sacrificed, sometimes everything - you can walk through cemeteries there with thousands of our soldiers, and they don't forget."

The final story was about one of his trips to Afghanistan, where he met a woman who was born in Afghanistan but fled to Canada with her family. She grew up in Montreal and had a career in computer science. But she made the decision to travel back to Afghanistan to let the women know what their rights were under the new, post-Taliban regime - risking her life in the process.

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