Greg Tobin is the Digital Strategy Director for the Canada Strong & Proud Network.
Are you proud to be a Canadian?
It may seem trite to ask, but it has become an important question in recent years.
Arguments about politicians in Ottawa aside – we’re the best country in the world. We have the highest standards for nearly everything. We are wealthy, we have a landscape covered in the most beautiful, pristine nature imaginable. We’re a nation of powerful rivers and lakes, of silent and strong forests, rich mines, a wealth of resources, and huge potential.
We have a heritage of Constitutional Monarchy that is built on one of the strongest political systems in the world. And we have a reputation as a peaceful, and prosperous nation that millions of people around the world would give anything to come to. Canadians are hard-working, strong, smart, and capable people. We have a lot to be proud of.
But for a lot of radical activists within Canada, the answer to this important question is a very loud “no”.
So how could one live in this country, see what it has to offer, and turn up your nose at it?
Because, primarily, of a lack of perspective about history. And not just our history but most of the history of western democracy. Every single nation, every single institution, every single person who has ever lived has been seriously flawed – up to and including all of us today. And we shouldn’t tear that history down because we find parts of it unsavoury, or frustrating. That history stands as a lesson to learn, and a reminder of how far we’ve come.
To do otherwise would be to fall prey to cynicism. To look at the miracle of our modern civilization and only see the flaws, and ask why it isn’t perfect yet, is a recipe for deep bitterness. It seeks to find someone to blame and creates division. And lately, we’ve seen way too many politicians use this as a tool for political gain – but it’s now spilling over into our culture, and leading many people to simply want to tear it all down.
Does Canada have work to do? You bet. Have we made mistakes? Who hasn’t?
And we must account for them. But it is the very fact that we as a nation wish to do so, that is the very reason we rightly celebrate our nation’s birthday.
Every country has parts of their history textbooks that are filled with awful moments or individuals.
But what really separates Canada from most other nations in the world, is the fact that we have a serious desire to try and face up to them.
Do we always do it well? Nope.
Do we have more work to do? Absolutely.
It is okay to be upset and disappointed when we fall short as a nation. We’re made up of flawed people who have a fallen nature – so we shouldn’t be surprised when we stumble.
What we should be proud of though, is our desire to get back up and try again.
You don’t judge your wife, your children, or your friends by their worst moments. We don’t cancel our birthdays because we did something really stupid when we were younger. We don’t shut down anniversaries because of past mistakes of the involved parties. And so we should not cancel Canada day for the same reason.
Canada Day is a celebration about the best of us. Our best people, our best triumphs, our greatest sacrifices.
Canada Day is about the men who took Vimy Ridge when nobody else could. About the boys who stormed Juno Beach. About Frederick Banting, Terry Fox, and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. It’s about Wayne Gretzky, and Sir John A Macdonald, and Tommy Douglas, and George Etienne Cartier, and Billy Bishop, and John Candy, and Pierre Berton, Tommy Prince, the Group of Seven. The Tragically Hip, Rush, Leonard Cohen and Avirl Lavigne.
It’s about the Golden Goal, the Bill of Rights, the peaceful founding of our Confederation. It’s about our peacekeeping missions, the summit series, the railway from sea to shining sea. It’s about the Canadarm, the Stanley Cup, The Northwest passage, NATO, NORAD, medicare. And a list that would take 100 news articles to fill up just one small portion of what makes us the best place to live on Earth.
It is a day where we point the next generation to our greatest achievements and say “aim at that”.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of radical activists in modern day Canada who can’t get past their anger brought on by that lack of perspective, and forget these great achievements. They forget the sacrifices of those who aimed for our highest ideals and left Canada a better nation than when they first encountered it.
But just because they have lost that perspective, does not mean we now have to justify celebrating Canada Day to them or anyone. History cannot be cancelled, so long as there are those living who remember it, and pass it on to the next generation. It is up to all of us, all people who are proud to be Canadian, to be those individuals who carry the torch from those who came before us. To ensure there are those after us who will continue the great mission of Canada to be a force for incredible good in this world.
We turn our nose up at what we have here in Canada at our own peril. The last 155 years of innovations in human rights, technology, and governance that we have here, have placed us at the top of the list of best countries in the world.
This Canada Day, fly your flag proudly. Sing the anthem loudly.
And tell those who wish to cancel Canada Day to politely, but firmly, pound sand.