HAPPY CANADA DAY! Happy 153 year birthday! For who we are, and what we will become.
One of Canada’s greatest strengths is its ability to change.
The Canadian flag is a great example. The current red and white flag with the bold maple leaf in the centre was only adopted in 1965. The baby boomers, and everyone older weren’t even born when our current flag was first raised.
In 1999, internal boundaries changed when the territory of Nunavut, encompassing traditional lands of Inuit peoples, was created from the eastern portion of the Northwest Territories.
Landmark court decisions on First Nations rights and titles continue to shape the political landscape of Canada such as Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (1997), an important decision on First Nations land rights, and McIvor v. Canada (2009) which allowed women to keep their First Nations status when they married non-status men.
Equally what it means to be Canadian, whether the vote for women, marriage equality for LGBTQ, or the rights of refugees, continues to evolve.
Canada as a country is not a constant, but a work in progress. It exists as an area of land, but more importantly, as an idea. The idea that different peoples, from different backgrounds, can find common purpose together. The idea that dialogue, royal commissions, and debate are the ways to come to better ways of doing. That community can be created not because of difference, but because of a common will to work together.
Canada and its people have much to be proud of. The creator of modern-day peacekeepers. A leader in aeronautics and medical research. Champions of winter sports. Medicare and old age pensions.
It doesn’t excuse us to forget those things that not all things in our great land are positive. The legacy of Indian Residential Schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the opioid crisis, systemic racism, and high levels of childhood poverty are with us still.
But we are a country willing to evolve. There is space for dialogue and solutions. Wherever we are now, we can know that we have changed in the past, and we will continue to grow and change in the future.
So today, let’s celebrate.
Let’s celebrate that Canada has been ranked the #1 country for quality of life for the last 4 years in a row. Let’s celebrate that in 2020, US News & World Report compiled a range of metrics and ranked Canada the 2nd best country to live in the world (after Switzerland at 1st). We have one of the top 10 GDP’s in the world, at $1.73 trillion dollars. We have universal health care and a social safety net that keeps us all safer pandemic or no pandemic.
And let’s celebrate that, whatever happens in the next 153 years, we have the will and ability to change, progress, and evolve to become an even better place. Happy Canada Day!
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.