A conflicted Happy Canada Day from a conflicted Canadian. I was never much of a Canadian having been the daughter of a cultish religion that believed we were not “of this world”. Consequently we were not allowed to celebrate anything…Christmas, Easter, Halloween and especially Canada Day, which represented “the world”. We were not allowed to vote, join the military, become a member of a union and even being a Girl Guide was prohibited.
However, the day I moved across the ditch to the “Indian” reserve, when I was a teenager, I found a whole new boat load of reasons not to be a proud Canadian. As I raised my Coast Salish children I began to despise Canada, thinking it might be one of the worst countries in the world; not because the manifestations of our nasty racial attitudes were worse than other countries but because we thought we were so much better than the rest of the world so we ignored our own racism.
Then I married Tex, a full blooded Canadian, we call him the Canadian Shield. He’s a rock solid good guy who loves his country in spite of its blemishes. He doesn’t necessarily get the full nastiness of Canadian history (who does) but he’s open to examining old assumptions, willing to learn and prepared to change his attitudes. When we travel across the country he is an amazing guide to the wonders of Canada and I fall in love again and again with the diversity, not only of the people but the landscapes. I truly know why prairie people are so committed to what I once thought of as miles and miles of nothing. On our travels I’ve also met hundreds of Canadians like Tex who truly want to make this country a better place. They want to learn and they want to change their uninformed assumptions.
During the flag-waving, horn-honking “nationalist” parade across Canada I wondered what being Canadian really meant. But today, as I watch the world struggle with climate change, racial violence, deep rooted cynicism, fear and the tyranny of conservatism I am going to celebrate this place where I live along with every other Canadian who is honestly wanting to make this country a better, safer, more inclusive place for everyone. I’m still not a flag- waving patriot but add a little diversity to the maple leaf and I can get into it.