Although I never got off this continent until about 10 years ago, and have lived in Alberta for pretty much all of my life, I have travelled enough and experienced enough recently to confirm what many travellers say. Canada is one of the best countries in the world, if not the best. We have our problems but most seem manageable. We have made mistakes in the past and are willing to face them and try to do better. Our economy has been stable enough to avoid a depression for over 80 years. We have single-payer health care. We don’t squelch diversity and even celebrate our differences. We have some long and strong traditions which are allowed to grow and develop, like Dominion Day . . . oops, Canada Day, and our National Anthem which is now for each of us not all our sons only. We are the North. We are strong. We are free.
Canada Day is not about celebrating our perfection however, as nothing is perfect. It is not a pep rally about pseudo-greatness – past, present or future – that lives only in our imagination. Canada Day is a celebration, a lifting up, of a community that strives to stay a community in spite of the many challenges that confront us. There have been many and there will continue to be many as we work and grow together. Right now there are threats to our international trade. There is a rise in individualism and exclusivity. There is chronic economic disparity. The relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people is far from reconciled. The list is longer to be sure. The main threat I see is the rise of fear as the basis for our decision making. Too many individuals and organizations are exploiting mass media, new and old, to generate fear in order to gain power and wealth. As a nation we need to find ways to step back from what is becoming a state of perpetual fear and anxiety that encourages impulsive, usually regrettable decisions, and encourage deep, respectful conversation. We also need to find the courage to challenge those who use blame, name-calling, exaggeration, and out-right lies to move us from dialogue into attack against others.
Canada does have its own version of greatness which has developed for over 150 years, which is truly wonderful. Let’s be grateful for what we have and what we can be when we respect one another and aim for the good of the community and creation as we move forward together.