If you are not Canadian, you may not know that this Canada Day, July 1, 2017, is a special anniversary. It has been 150 years since Confederation.
I remember the excitement of our Centennial celebration in 1967. I was 14 years old and 100 years seemed an imaginatively long time. Looking back, the 50 years since seem to have flown by. However, our culture has matured and developed in ways that make me happy to say I am Canadian. We are more inclusive and respectful of differences. Our concern for the welfare of all citizens has grown and taken root in our actions and policies. We strive to protect our earth and to develop new forms of energy. We cherish our children and are working toward a sustainable future for them. This is not to say that we still don’t have a long way to go. But I am ever hopeful for our future.
We are a multicultural country. That means we recommend you learn English or French but respect your need to speak your own language as well. You’re welcome to keep your traditions, religion, and clothing styles as long as they do not break any of our laws or create dangerous situations for citizens. Myself, I am grateful for this attitude as I otherwise would never have found a Shin Buddhist Sect to join 30 years ago. Thunder Bay would not have developed from a pizza and doughnuts dominated city to a pizza and doughnuts dominated city with a lot of cool little ethnic restaurants as well.
Every year we have a Folklore Festival where people share their traditional food, dance, music, and dress. Thousands of people attend and it is not unusual to see a person of Scottish descent participating in a Japanese fan dance or and East Indian child devouring pierogies and Jamaican jerk chicken. With both deep regret and profound respect, we will watch the First Nations dancers and drummers perform on stage, their elaborate regalia testament to their strength, courage, and determination to survive in spite of the atrocities committed against them especially in residential schools.
If you live in Toronto or Montréal, you may not have the same view of Canada as those of us who live in small towns or cities in the north surrounded by forest. To us, Canada means you are 20 minutes away from wild spaces filled with trees, wildflowers, animals, rushing streams and sparkling lakes. This is the Canada I love, irreplaceable, fragile, and in need of our protection.
Without getting into politics, I have to say that I am dismayed that the POTUS to the south does share the same sentiment with regard to protection of wild spaces, clean air and water, and all species of animals. This is not to say that our track record is perfect. Canada has made some major mistakes as well. But in our hearts, I believe each of us understands the profound beauty and eco-diversity we need to cherish and shield. Although we may not agree on the methods by which to achieve this.
Most of the books for the rest of this month are about our beautiful nation. You will undoubtedly notice how dominant natural spaces are in our national psyche. I believe it is essential that every child, urban or rural, spends regular time surrounded by our bountiful boreal forest. Nothing calms your mind, refuels your energy, stimulates your creativity, and strengthens your gratitude then connecting with the earth in its purest state.
On Canada Day, we will be attending the city celebrations with loud music, and overindulgence of food, dancing and singing, and noisy a spectacular fireworks. But, in a truly Canadian way. Our celebration will be held at the local marina where sailboats and waterfowl glide past, the waves of the majestic Lake Superior splash up and over the breakwater, and the Sleeping Giant (Nanbijou) dominates the harbour reminding us that all Canadians need to be included in our policies, practices, and dreams for the next fifty years.
HAPPY CANADA DAY!
Like this shirt, the pictures above (and more) are available in my Cafe Press shop.