Celebrate Canada Day on July 1

July 1 — It’s time to celebrate Canada Day!

This is a day for picnics, parades, barbecues, outdoor concerts, and fireworks. It’s a day to fly our red and white maple leaf flag with pride.  It’s a day to wear red and white clothing as a show of Canadian pride.

Celebrate Canada Day -- Canadian Flag photo courtesy of Ankakay
Celebrate Canada Day — Canadian Flag photo courtesy of Ankakay

Reflect on Canadian citizenship

Canada Day is also a time to think about what it means to be a Canadian citizen.

As Canadians we enjoy a high quality of life.  We have clean air, clean water, and high standards of public health. The economy is relatively robust. The government is stable. Rights and freedoms are respected.

Founded on the aspirations of early French and British settlers, Canada has a unique mix of many cultures and a long tradition of immigration from all parts of the world. Most Canadians are only one or two generations away from parents or grand parents who came from another country.

The beliefs, attitudes and customs of many people are blended into a deep respect for diversity which is a key characteristic of Canadians.

Unfortunately, in some parts of the country, there remains an ugly underbelly of racism and intolerance.  

There is also a history of abysmal treatment of aboriginal people who populated Canada long before any of the immigrants arrived.

Too many Canadians fail to appreciate our country. We neglect civic responsibilities and don’t follow political affairs. Voter turnout at elections is very low.

Canadians Take Life for Granted and Love to Complain

Most Canadians take life in Canada for granted. Those of us who were born here often forget that it is a privilege to live in a beautiful country of freedom, tolerance, and wealth. We don’t appreciate the democratic elections, established laws, and public safety that define Canada making it the envy of many nations.

From coast to coast, we gripe about the weather. We complain about the high rates of income tax, property tax and gas tax.  We’re embarrassed by politicians who behave boorishly or who take advantage of their positions.  We grouse when our favourite sports teams do poorly.

There’s no question that all parts of Canada have some lousy weather in every season, but the natural beauty of the mountains, prairies, lakes, rivers and oceans compensate with breath-taking scenery. If some days are too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy, so what?

While taxes are relatively high in Canada, it’s worth remembering that taxes pay for good access to education, to universal health care, and for public safety.

Individual politicians and political parties can be made to pay for bad behaviour and poor governance. There is a democratic system for replacing them. It’s called an election and it allows every Canadian a choice.

As for sports teams, I confess to having given up on my favourite Toronto Maple Leafs but I am taking pleasure in the small successes of the Toronto Blue Jays on the baseball field and I enjoyed the performance of the Raptors last season.

Make your celebration joyful

However you celebrate Canada Day, please make it joyful.  If you read this blog from abroad, remember Canada today and give us a tribute.

For Canadian readers, let’s all start with a joyful toast to our country, its diversity, its fair-minded people and its beauty.  Let’s take a moment to reflect on the freedoms we take for granted. Without hesitancy, let’s make a commitment to citizenship with all of its responsibilities.

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