My parents immigrated here from Scotland in the mid 70’s. I have wondered what being born there instead would have been like. I imagine I would have enjoyed living closer to the distilleries of Speyside than I do, and will testify a kilt is only slightly behind sweatpants in terms of comfort. Scotch and skirts aside, I’m eternally thankful it was Canada where my parents chose to start a new life and a family.
Knowing how much there is to love about this country it is not hard to imagine why my parents made the same choice thousands of immigrants do every year. The diversity that comes with them is one of the things I love most. I grew up in the Milliken neighborhood of Markham, at the time an area with a large and diverse immigrant population. I went to birthday parties that served roti, curry goat, and pancit beside cake and ice cream. I learned to swear in Filipino before I learned to swear in English.
Anyone anywhere in this country need only look outside to see one of my other favorite things. It would be a subjective study at best, but on a breathtaking beauty by square kilometer scale I can’t imagine there is a more beautiful place in the world. From coast to coast the oppotunities afforded to both Canadians and visitors from around the world to see nature at her finest are nearly endless. My eyes have rested on the Sistine Chapel and on the still waters of Algonquin Park. Forced to choose I’d take the lake every day of the week, and twice on the day the Vatican does business.
They say beauty is skin deep, and if there is one thing that rivals Canada’s natural beauty it is the beauty of her people. Canadians have a well deserved reputation as apologetically polite, funny, caring individuals. The list of Canadians who have made a contribution in service of the world’s people is only matched by the number of fields in which they have. From science to sports, from the environment to innovation, from the arts to the armed services, this world is a better place thanks to Canadians. The maple leaf we wear on our sleeves, our backpacks, and even our skin is a symbol fondly recognized world wide. I understand there are still bars in Holland where anyone wearing one will have difficulty buying their own drink.
We can be proud of the country we are, and still know how much we can improve. We are still a country where too many have too little. A country that struggles with how to make a home for everyone who comes here, and especially for those first nations who were here before us all. A country where our environment must defend itself not just from our pollution, but from political ideology as well.
However, we are also a country many others around the world look to for inspiration. A country that has shown people’s differences need not be greater than that which we share. A country who showed the world that soldiers could make peace, and not just fight wars. A country with a belief in democracy so strong those dedicated to breaking it up sat in the country’s highest legislature.
We are too polite to admit it but Canada and Canadians have been a gift to the world in any number of ways. Ours is a well earned reputation for compassion, kindness, equality, and freedom. I can think of few better ways to celebrate Canada than ensuring the world continues to see us that way. Happy Canada Day!