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Expats living in U.S. make their own fun

Joe Couture The Province (Vancouver)
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Canadians living south of the border like to get together and break out their maple-leaf-emblazoned clothing for Canada Day, according to Sean Mitton.

"Even though we may enjoy living in the U.S., there are things about Canada we certainly miss," he said.

Mitton -- who grew up near Toronto and lived in Vancouver after going to school in New Brunswick -- spoke to The Province from near Raleigh, N.C., where he now lives and where up to 100 Canadians gathered yesterday in scorching weather to celebrate Canada Day a couple days in advance.

The annual picnic attracts Canadians from across the state.

"It's a great opportunity to wear your Canadian stuff," Mitton laughed. "I'm wearing my Roots T-shirt and a Moose Head Breweries hat."

Mitton has had much success uniting hundreds of Canadian expats in North Carolina and knows of similar groups in Texas, California, Georgia and Massachusetts.

Clad in red and white, they get a favourable reception from Americans, he said.

"Typically, Americans like Canadians. They certainly joke around with us, especially about things like hockey because we're such passionate hockey fans. People are respectful that we miss our heritage at times."

Mitton is also founder of the Canadian Expat Network, which seeks to unite the two million Canadians living in the U.S. through a Facebook-esque online community.

To promote its national launch, the website is holding a Canada Day Giveway, complete with Air Canada tickets, an autographed picture of Mike Weir, a Calgary Flames 25th anniversary jersey and gift certificates to Lululemon and Tim Hortons among its prizes.

One American town not celebrating Canada Day is Little Canada, Minn. About 10,000 people live in the suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

"We really don't do anything special for Canada Day," said Mayor Bill Blesener.

"We have a Canadian Days celebration, which is the first weekend in August, when we have our fireworks and everything."

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