There has been a lot in the news regarding the celebration of Canada’s 150th and the atrocities committed against our indigenous peoples. It has made me very sad, and frankly not really wanting to celebrate anything. But this morning, as I watched some old Canadian Vignettes like the Log Driver’s Waltz and the Blackfly song, (I’ll die with the black fly pickin’ my bones, in north Ontario-io), that ember of love that I have for my country was fanned to a flame. I remembered that there IS something to celebrate.
I celebrate my people who came with nothing to build a better life. My history is no different than those new Canadians fleeing their own countries now. How many of our ancestors really wanted to leave their own homes to travel across the world and start over? Our people came with a hope for a better life, just as new immigrants do today.
I celebrate my people in the Ottawa Valley who say ‘eh’ and ‘gidday’ and grew up with Hockey Night in Canada, Mr. Dressup, and the Friendly Giant, just as I celebrate Canadians who cherish their own traditions, like Pow Wow’s and Chinese New Year, Coronation Street, and getting up in the middle of the night to watch live cricket tournaments.
I celebrate my fellow Canadians who are kind and good and polite and say sorry and have a good international reputation for a reason.
I celebrate the notion that there is more than one way to be Canadian. We are as Canadian as chip trucks and poutine , as lobster, as bannock, as spring rolls and as shawarma. The list goes on and on and is longer than I could ever name.
There are traditions and foods and games and practices that I will never encounter and yet are equally Canadian. People who will never understand my ways just as I may not understand theirs. Yet as long as we remain tolerant and accepting of each other, we will embody the best of what it means to be Canadian.
Yes, we are flawed, and yes, our history with our indigenous brothers and sisters needs to be acknowledged and understood, corrected where possible, taught to our children, and put in our history books so that it is not forgotten.
Yes, we have bigots and racists and criminals and a slew of small-minded fear mongers.
We have government that has made mistakes and continues to do so.
And yes, we are more than 150 years old.
But in spite of it all, I am proud to be Canadian.
I am proud of my heritage. I love my people, and not just those whose blood runs through my veins. I love all of my people. Those that have been here thousands of years, and those that have been here just a few.
I hope today we can celebrate all that is good about our shared experience. I hope we can celebrate our freedom. Celebrate this beautiful country that we live in. Celebrate our uniqueness and diversity.
Happy Canada Day Canada, my home and native land. I stand on guard for thee.