Canadians are known for down-playing their nationalism. This often leads to ignoring events that allow us to celebrate the many advantages we take for granted as Canadians. As someone born in Canada, who had the priviledge of attending three excellent Canadian universities, who experienced many career opportunities in various provinces and who is now retired and living happily in Ontario, I don’t take this country for granted. Perhaps because my husband comes from another country and took a vow of citizenship many years ago, perhaps because our son attended university both in the US and in the UK, perhaps because we have many relatives who live abroad, our household is very aware that Canadians often ignore Canada.
Canadians love to Complain
Canadians love to complain about the weather, the government or the high taxes. If we live in a city, we complain about the traffic. If we live in rural Canada, we complain about deer or bears or other animals. In winter, we complain of the cold and in summer we complain about heat.
I am guilty of all the above.
Take Pause — Remember those priviledges
Tomorrow — July 1 — is Canada Day. This is the time to celebrate the freedoms and the priviledges of Canada and of being a Canadian.
As someone who retired just a year ago, I will toast the Health Care System that has allowed me to have a hip replacement without worrying about the cost. Only minor expenses for mobility equipment and some prescription drugs were not covered — and most of those costs got picked up by our extended health coverage. Last fall my sister who lived in another province spent the last weeks of her life in hospital with melanoma. Her family had few, if any, end of life care health care costs. The Canada Health Act covered these essential expenses in our family as it does for others — regardless of income.
Financial security is an important aspect of retirement and I celebrate the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) that provides and indexed foundation of retirement income. For many people, the CPP is supplemented by Old Age Security and, for those in great need, an application for Guaranteed Income Supplement provides more income. Growing old is not easy, but there are tremendous supports available to help Canadians supplement private pensions and investments in providing financial security.
In May, Canadians had the priviledge of voting in a federal election. We take this freedom for granted but in many countries a free and democratic election is only a dream. Think of Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia and countless other countries that are struggling for these essential freedoms.
Express your gratitude
Make a plan to mark Canada’s birthday with a small celebration. Toronto weather is forecast as reaching a high of 27C with sunny skies, so you can’t complain about the weather. Hopefully other parts of Canada will also enjoy reasonable temperatures.
Gather your family. Make plans with friends. Have a special meal. Watch fireworks. If you live near Ottawa, go to the capital and join the crowds at Parliament. The treat might be a glimpse of Will and Kate. Raise the flag to show your loyalty to Canada.
Most importantly, take a few minutes to celebrate what it means to be a Canadian and to live in this wonderfully diverse and beautiful country. Give thanks in your own way.
Our family is having a simple celebration at the cottage. We will change the cottage flag and proudly fly the Maple Leaf tomorrow. We will eat red and white foods — chicken breasts with Ontario beets and local strawberries with shortcake. We will toast the country with both red and white wine. And tomorrow night, we will watch the fireworks explode over Lake Huron thrilling us along with thousands of others who gather on the beaches for this annual show over the water.
Happy Canada Day to all readers! Celebrate well and celebrate safely!