Thursday, Canada commemorates 154 as a nation. On July 1st, 1867 the British North America Act was signed and Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick became collectively known as Canada. It is normally a day to wear red and white and fly the maple leaf.
This year though, these celebrations are being questioned by some. In light of the approximately one thousand unmarked graves found at residential schools this year- graves hidden in a systematic attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture- many people are saying that we should not celebrate Canada Day. We should wear orange instead. We should not celebrate our present system of government that benefitted from racist policies of the past.
Others are saying that we should not celebrate Canada Day because of recent xenophobic attacks on Muslim citizens during the past month. Women have been attacked for wearing the hijab. The Afzaal family in London was murdered while taking an evening stroll just because they are muslim. While the vast majority of Canadians found the running down of innocent citizens to be abhorrent, the increase in racist incidents obviously shows that something is wrong in Canada. Certain of our citizens feel that it is ok to hate just because someone is different. This strong hate by a vocal small minority means that maybe we need to look at what it means to be a Canadian.
Canada Day has always been something special for me. No it is has not been a time to wave the flag up the polls and wear my Maple Leaf on my shoulder sort of day. I am glad to be Canadian and have lived other places and realize how fortunate I am to live here. But I think one of the beauties of being a Canadian is that we don't need to throw our patriotism in the face of others. Americans, for instance, tell everyone, and I mean everyone, that they come from the greatest country on earth. As Canadians we don't have to tell everyone. We just know it is true. More importantly about patriotism and flag waving, Canada Day is known as moving Day in Quebec and the end of school for the rest of the country. It is a time, pre-COVID and post COVID, where we move from the busy time of the academic year to the quieter times of summer. Yes the fact that we get to our celebrate our country is nice too, but I think a celebration to move on to summer is most important.
So should we celebrate Canada Day this year or not. I am going to take a middle road on this question. I know our country is not perfect. Horrendous mistakes have been made in the past. Horrendous mistakes will be made by our country in the future. I know that although our country prides itself on tolerance and acceptance, but a few promote values of hate and division. So I can understand those voices that say that now is not the time for a party. Now is a time to think about past and present wrong doings and work toward a better future.
But I know as well, that despite there being major mistakes made in our past as a country, and made presently in our country, Canada has a reputation for being a peace maker. We have given much to humanitarian aid to better the conditions of all people globally. Yes there have beenn mis-steps, but there are reasons to be proud of being a Canadian. So to those who want to wave the flag on Thursday and celebrate, I say do so, but do so knowing we need to continue to work for a Canada that is for all people. For those who want to mourn on Thursday and call for a major overhaul of the effect of racism on our country, I say do so with God's blessings. May all of us work together to make Canada a place where all might feel valued, respected, and honoured. Blessings.