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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Cancel Canada Day?

The other evening, I watched the news and was troubled by hearing of some cities like Victoria, Penticton, La Ronge, and others across the country, cancelling Canada Day celebrations.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was interviewed and he said that while the recent Kamloops residential school discovery is “very troubling” and “dreadful” and called it evidence of the “grave injustices” committed against Indigenous peoples, he went on to say that the reported discovery of these remains shouldn’t lead to doing away with July 1 festivities altogether. He admitted that Canada’s history is littered with injustice and wrongdoing (as is probably every country in the world…) but that doesn’t justify cancelling the nation’s birthday. Instead, it should be a time to give thanks for “living in the greatest country in the world.”

I agree with Erin O’Toole. We do live in, if not “the greatest”, for sure, at least one of the greatest countries in the world. For example, the United Nations 2020 Human Development Index placed Canada 16th out 189 countries with comparable data. Back in 1992, it placed us first.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of travelling to a number of countries of the world. When I have been asked where I am from and I say “Canada,” almost universally it is met with admiration. Unfortunately, I have not seen that same acceptance extended to our neighbours to the south. Some of them have told me they tell others they’re Canadian, instead!

I remember coming home from my first trip to Ukraine in 1994. While there, I had been stunned at some of the conditions people of the country my grandparents came from were living in. My first day back in Canada, I smiled as I picked up the newspaper and read of some of the anger being expressed about the state of Winnipeg streets. I had just come from Chernivsti, a city in Ukraine the size of Winnipeg, where I had watched our van driver drive around major potholes on its Main Street. He had told me that, as result of the condition of the streets there, replacing shock absorbers was a yearly event for him.

Then, a couple of days later, someone griped to me about “how terrible things are here!” I had to bite my tongue to not ask in response, “Compared to where?”

The next Sunday morning, a fellow came up to me after the service in our church, in which I had made some of these comments. He told me that someone visiting Canada had recently said to him, “Bill, you’ve won the lottery! You were born in Canada.”

There’s still a lot I don’t like in what I see in Canada (besides the highly publicized residential school issues, it’s equally troubling to me to watch it’s continual downward moral slide.) But all in all, it’s still a wonderful place to live.

            So, this year, you won’t find me cancelling Canada Day. Indeed we already have the Canadian flag proudly flying in the front of our house. I will be full of true patriot love and will be standing on guard for Canada.

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