Some thoughts on this Canada Day Anniversary
Back during the winter I was visiting a friend and he mentioned something that stuck with me. It was around the time that the Syrian government had used poison gas on some of its citizens and the television newscasts were carrying those horrific images of the victims, including children. My friend told me about the day before, that just after seeing those images on TV he happened to look out his apartment window and could see a couple of Syrian refugee kids who had just recently moved into his building, out playing in the snow. He said at that moment he never felt more proud of being Canadian.
The fact we gave a second chance to those and so many other desperate people over not only the past couple of years but throughout our history is indeed reason to celebrate Canada and especially on this 150th anniversary of confederation. We are afterall, as is often said, a country of immigrants – of people who made it to our shores in search of a better life, and in finding one, have made it a better country for all.
There is no question we won the birth lottery. It is indeed a wonderful country – beautiful landscapes, economic opportunity, a stable government, universal healthcare, and it’s peaceful.
As we look south of the border it’s easy to be smug when we consider what’s going on there. Yes, we’ve got it pretty damn good, but not all of us. And while it is not a time for our indigenous peoples to celebrate, I like to think it may be a time for hope.
I was too young to absorb it at the time, but from what I read about our centennial fifty years ago, with Expo 67 and all the optimism that surrounded that time, there was hardly a mention of the plight of our indigenous peoples. They weren’t even on our radar, hardly even an afterthought as we collectively congratulated each other on being smart enough to be born here.
Flash ahead to now and there’s a different attitude. Our First nations people are letting it be known that 150 years of confederation gives them no reason to celebrate and they are absolutely right. It’s been a rough go. But I like to think the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has raised the consciousness of many if not most of us. We know now about Residential schools and understand that the effects of that dark chapter in our history continue to reverberate, manifesting itself in all manner of social ills.
Against this backdrop we have a Prime Minister in Justin Trudeau who promised to make things right, to bring clean water and economic opportunity, education and respect to a peoples who have for too long been forgotten and ignored. He provided hope but I hope not with unrealistic expectations. If that is the case he has simply dug the hole deeper. So far, we have seen precious little in the way of delivering on what he promised.
It is understandable our First Nations people are using the occasion of the 150th anniversary celebrations to make a statement that the time is overdo for serious, progressive action.
It will take time, but it is time now to make serious progress. Then, when the calendar rolls around for our 200th anniversary of Confederation, it can truly be without this one big blemish. It will truly be a Canada united, where ALL Canadians will have reason to celebrate, and more than ever stand as the envy of the world, a beacon to all of what can be.
What we have now is good, it’s really good, but we can do better. To mark the 150th, I’ll drink to that.
It's your Canada too, so what do you think?