July 1 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary. For those readers of my blog who are not from Canada, the historical moment we commemorate is Confederation when a number of politicians in 1867 signed a document that bound a loose collection of provinces controlled by the British Empire into a somewhat vague and discontented unity.
Confederation was an attempt at compromise between peoples within a unified political framework. It doesn’t seem ideal, as an origin but Canada managed to reach proper independence, with the right to amend our Constitution without approval from Britain, which we only did in 1982.
Well here we are in 2017, 150 years later and Canada has a lot to celebrate. Our prime minister Justin Trudeau is glamorous and internationally recognized as a celebrity of progressive politics. We are among the last societies in the West not totally consumed by loathing of others. Canada leads the Group of 7 countries in economic growth. Our cultural power is real: Drake recently had 24 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time — for one shining moment he was nearly a quarter of popular music. Frankly, it’s not going to get much better than this for little old Canada. http://nyti.ms/2sDMmIv
Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, articulated Canada’s difference from other countries perfectly: “There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian,” he said when he was prime minister in 1971. “What could be more absurd than the concept of an ‘all Canadian’ boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate.” http://nyti.ms/2sDMmIv
Canadians are very fortunate to live in a country where no wars have been fought for two hundred years. A country with big freedoms – freedom of movement, freedom of political choice, freedom of religion, freedom from arbitrary persecution. Canada is, according to several international surveys, the most tolerant country in the world. Yes, Canada is no Utopia. We still have poverty and racism and all the other problems people wrestle with – including, petty stuff that we sometimes agonize over where many countries wish they had our problems. But Canadians need to celebrate what we have … a great country.
Canadians are a very modest people and we are not big on patriotism except when we watch Olympic Hockey. So, although there will be celebrations in communities across Canada for our 150th and a big splash on Parliament Hill on July 1st, Canadians will just love our country quietly. As we don’t want to make too big a fuss.
The virtues of Canada and its culture make overt celebration and flag waving somewhat difficult. Canada’s real glories are its hospitals and its public schools, but those, unlike the Marine Corps, cannot be paraded.
As Stephen Marche points out in his article in the New York Times Canada Doesn’t Know How to Party, “the fact that Canadians are very reluctant to celebrate itself too much is actually something worth celebrating. It has become abundantly clear in 2017 that patriotism is for losers. Patriotism is for people and for countries that need to justify their existence through symbols rather than achievements. Canada is doing well enough that it doesn’t require spackled vanity.”
Now don’t get me wrong Canadians have some great attributes which are unique, famous Canadian author Pierre Berton pointed out many years ago, “a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe without tipping it”.
And during the winter, one of our favourite sports is Curling which is sort of Shuffleboard on ice where participants continually yell at each other and don’t apologize (Canadians are very apologetic).
And how do you know if you are a Canadian?
- You put on shorts as soon as it hits plus 10 C, even if there is still snow around
- You use a red pen on your non-Canadian textbooks and fill in the missing ‘u’s from labor, honor, and color
- You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers
- Someone accidentally stepped on your foot. You apologize.
- You stepped on someone’s foot. You apologize, then apologize for making them apologize
- Your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May
- Someone in a Home Depot offers you assistance… and they don’t work there
- You’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number
- You have switched from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day and back again
- You install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked
- You carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them
- You design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit
- The speed limit on the highway is 80 km and you’re going 90 and everybody is passing you
- Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow
- You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.
A few years ago, an article crossed my desk that just blew me away. There was a report in the world news that someone in Pakistan had placed an ad in a newspaper with an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian… any Canadian.
Who in God’s name would want to kill a peace-loving people like Canadians kind of boggles my mind but I guess there are a lot of unbalanced people out there.
Anyway, according to this article (which unfortunately does not have a source) an Australian dentist wrote the following piece to help define what a Canadian is so that they would know one when they found one. Here is what he wrote.
“A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.
A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux or one of the many tribes known as native Canadians. (Note he forgot our northern neighbours the Inuit). Canadian religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada, they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God. A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which recognizes the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.
A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least, -the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected. These are the people who build Canada.
You can try to kill a Canadian if you must, as other blood- thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but, in doing so, you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be Canadian. “
On this our 150th birthday, let us all take time to reflect upon and commemorate the richness and diversity of our Canadian heritage. Let us celebrate Canada’s contributions to the world. We are an impressive country of growth, diplomacy, vision, entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic, while maintaining a sense of togetherness in good and challenging times. We are a young country, yet rich in history and culture. Our greatest ambassadors are the people.
And so, to my fellow Canadians, Happy Birthday Canada!
Also check out 150 reasons why it’s better to be Canadian To celebrate Canada’s big birthday, MacLean’s presents one reason to love the country for every single year since 1867 https://lnkd.in/dEcvD7Q