We Are More by Shane Koyczan

February 15, 2010 — 3 Comments

One of the most “proud to be Canadian” moments at the Winter Olympics Opening, even if you’re not Canadian, was the moment Canadian slam poet, Shane Koyczan,  took the stage with his “love song” to Canada “We Are More.”

CTV took some time to catch up with Shane after his presentation.

How does that feel?

I’m honestly flabbergasted. I don’t know how to react. All I can really say is thank-you, and those words never seem to suffice because I want to express the totality of my gratitude, but I don’t have much more to offer than thank-you. I guess it’s like I said in the poem: please and thank-you.

this version gives you a hint of the feelings it stirred during the broadcast, but the live version just has the ambiance that makes you tingle.

We Are More
When defining Canada,
you might list some statistics.
You might mention our tallest building
or biggest lake,
you might shake a tree in the fall
and call a red leaf “Canada.”

You might rattle off some celebrities,
might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie,
might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few
Barenaked Ladies,
or that we made these crazy things
like zippers,
electric cars,
and washing machines.

When defining Canada,
it seems the world’s anthem has been
“been there, done that”
and maybe that’s where we used to be at.
It’s true,
we’ve done and we’ve been.

We’ve seen
all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine,
and turned into theme parks.

But when defining Canada,
don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks.

We are not just fishing stories
about the one that got away,
we do more than sit around and say “eh?”

And yes,
we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One,
who inspired little number nines
and little number ninety-nines,
but we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines,
off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes,
and some say what defines us
is something as simple as “please” and “thank you,”
and as for “you’re welcome.”

Well, we say that too.

But we are more
than genteel or civilized,
we are an idea in the process
of being realized,
we are young,
we are cultures strung together
then woven into a tapestry,
and the design
is what makes us more
than the sum total of our history.

We are an experiment going right for a change
with influences that range from “A” to “zed”
and yes, we say “zed” instead of “zee.”

We are the colours of Chinatown, and the coffee of Little Italy.

We dream so big that there are those
who would call our ambition an industry
because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow.

We do more than grow wheat and brew beer,
we are vineyards of good year after good year,
we reforest what we clear
because we believe in generations beyond our own,
knowing now that so many of us
have grown past what used to be.

We can stand here today
filled with all the hope people have
when they say things like “someday.”

Someday we’ll be great,
someday we’ll be this
or that,
someday we’ll be at a point
when someday was yesterday,
and all of our aspirations will pay the way
for those who on that day
look towards tomorrow,
and still they say someday
we will reach the goals we set,
and we will get interest on our inspiration.

Because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks,
more than backpacks and hiking trails,
we are hammers and nails building bridges
towards those who are willing to walk across.

We are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss.

We are not the see-through gloss or glamour
of those who clamour for the failings of others.

We are fathers, brothers, sisters, and mothers,
uncles, and nephews, aunts, and nieces.

We are found missing puzzle pieces,
we are families with room at the table for newcomers,
we are more than summers and winters,
more than on-and-off seasons.

We are the reasons people have for wanting to stay,
because we are more than what we say or do.

We live to get past what we go through,
and learn who we are.

We are students,
students who study the studiousness of studying,
so we know what, as well as why.

We don’t have all the answers,
but we try,
and the effort is what makes us more.

We don’t all know what it is in life we’re looking for,
so keep exploring,
go far and wide,
or go inside but go deep.

Go deep,
as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss,
and suddenly there was this location scout
trying to figure some way out
to get inside you,
because you’ve been through hell and high water,
and you went deep.

Keep exploring,
because we are more
than a laundry list of things to do and places to see.
We are more than hills to ski
or countryside ponds to skate.

We are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can’t wait,
we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes,
a country that is all the ways you choose to live,
a land that can give you variety
because we are choices.

We are millions upon millions of voices shouting
“keep exploring… we are more.”

We are the surprise the world has in store for you,
it’s true.

Canada is the “what” in “what’s new?”
So don’t say “been there, done that”
unless you’ve sat on the sidewalk
while chalk artists draw still lifes
on the concrete of a kid in the street
beatboxing to Neil Young for fun.

Don’t say you’ve been there, done that
unless you’ve been here doing it.

Let this country be your first-aid kit
for all the times you get sick of the same old, same old.

Let us be the story told to your friends,
and when that story ends,
leave chapters for the next time you’ll come back.

Next time pack for all the things
you didn’t pack for the first time,
but don’t let your luggage define your travels.

Each life unravels differently,
and experiences are what make up
the colours of our tapestry.

We are the true north,
strong and free,
and what’s more
is that we didn’t just say it,
we made it be.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. » The Olympics Opening Ceremonies Ranked personal.amy-wong.com – A Blog by Amy Wong. - July 28, 2012

    […] going to cameo. Their ceremony, it was about Canada — as Shane Koyczan’s We Are More [1] highlights. It was about the sports, it was about the spirit of its […]

  2. Shane Koyczan’s To This Day by Giant Ant | personal.amy-wong.com - A Blog by Amy Wong. - February 20, 2013

    […] Koyczan, who was in charge of the We Are More poem used for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics [1]. To This Day focuses on the lasting impact of bullying on its victims, and though it feels […]

  3. Dave Tynan’s Heartbreak featuring Emmet Kirwan | personal.amy-wong.com - A Blog by Amy Wong. - April 18, 2017

    […] came to know about slam poetry via Shane Koyczan and his sequence at the 2010 Winter Olympics [1]. […]

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