Saturday, July 1, 2023

Canada Day Reflections

“My dream is for people around the world to look up and to see Canada like a little jewel sitting at the top of the continent.” 

~ Attributed to Tommy Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 and Leader of the New Democratic Party from 1961 to 1971

Canada became a nation on July 1, 1867.  Our country is 156 years old today and we have much to celebrate.  I am proud to call myself a Canadian.  This is not to say, "My country, right or wrong."  It is merely to say that in an imperfect world, with an abundance of war and strife, Canada is one of the best places to live.  To the cynics I say, Canadians try to acknowledge our mistakes.  We try to atone for our errors and the dark moments in our history, just as we celebrate our great achievements. - and there are many

The last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the residential school revelations have been difficult and challenging.  This nation may have been bent, but it has never been broken.  The Canadian spirit is very much alive. It is amazing that Confederation ever came about in the first place.  Yet this vast northern land was brought together peacefully.  Against all odds, a new country was formed, eventually stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes.  Canadians found a way to make it happen.  Immigrants from all over the world have made Canada their home.  

This country remains a beacon of hope  It is the land where Terry Fox made his dauntless run for cancer research.  It is the place where Frederick Banting and Charles Best, co-discovers of insulin, brought hope to diabetics around the world.  It is the home of artist Emily Carr of Victoria B.C. and author L.M. Montgomery of Prince Edward Island.  Our 14th prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his part in ending the 1956 Suez Crisis.  Our 15th prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, was instrumental in patriating our constitution in 1982 and providing us with our Charter of Rights and Freedom.

In 1967, Canada wowed the world with Expo '67 in Montreal, as the country marked its Centennial.  There was a song that year that celebrated 20 million Canadians.  Our population has doubled to 40 million in the ensuing 56 years.  That is still a small population for a country with the second largest land mass in the world.  It is slightly less than than that of the state of California.  

Canadians have accomplished much, but there is still much more work to be done. Reconciliation with  Indigenous peoples is of the highest priority, as well as welcoming immigrants and refugees.  The meanness and cruelty of Trumpism and the far right must be soundly rejected.  

It is also important to know and understand our history.  As John Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th prime minister stated, There can be no dedication to Canada's future without a knowledge of its past. " I firmly reject the notion that Canadian history isn't interesting or exciting.  It just needs to be presented in a more interesting and exciting manner.  Our history is rife with fascinating stories.  They just haven't been told enough.  

A recent study by Leger found that just one in four Canadians (23%) would pass the Canadian citizenship test. The respondents answered 10 randomly selected question and the average score on the test was only 49%, significantly lower that the 75% required to pass.  That's not good enough.  We have to do better in making Canadians more aware of their history and their form of government.  

No country is above criticism, but Canada Day is a time to praise this nation.  This is a great country and we have the potential to be even greater by moving boldly into the future.

- Joanne

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