COLUMN: Canada Day renews hope for future

Reporter's Viewpoint

Every Canada Day I feel like celebrating.

I’m not quite sure what it is but with so many community events around the country to celebrate our heritage, it always makes me feel like being part of it. The Canada Day celebrations are like a community party. And who doesn’t like a good party?

I used to stick a flag in my hair and wear it proudly when I would hang out with my friends to celebrate. It’s great to go to events in the city and celebrate with others and see the happy people enjoying themselves.

Lately I have been wondering what it is to be Canadian. I wonder what we are truly celebrating.

I am the first generation of my family to be born in this country, but I don’t know as much about the history as I would like. I know the colonial history and snippets of British Columbia’s history, but not as much as I should.

I have a history degree, but Canadian history wasn’t my specialization area. Although I took several courses on colonization, Canadian politics and learned about B.C.’s gold mining past, I always felt I could learn more.

The country has a rich past that wasn’t highlighted to me in high school. Having the right teacher can ignite more interest in the subject and having a bad teacher can turn a person off it completely.

It wasn’t until university that the subject came alive for me. I had several professors who were passionate about the topic and made it one of the most interesting subjects to study.

Being Canadian for me has always been closely tied to a love of the outdoors and a desire to see some of our wilderness protected for the future. It means fishing trips for rainbow and kokanee trout in the clear lakes of the Interior.

In this country, I have the right to vote. I have the freedom to make many choices some other people in the world don’t have. I can get an education, practise my religion freely and my rights are protected by our many laws.

Our country is also a multicultural mosaic of different people seeking a different or better life. Our Canadian demographic landscape is a kaleidoscope of traditions.

Being Canadian means accepting people as they are, learning about different cultures and embracing the diversity of what makes up our country. It’s about being open and understanding. It’s hoping that we can get along and move forward as a country where we have freedoms and protection.

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always coincide with ideals and in our country, we still face racism and prejudices. I wish it was different.

But our country is still plagued with neo-Nazi groups and there are hate crimes where people are beaten because of the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation.

Those actions aren’t something I’m proud of. I hope more people begin to step up as a unified voice and say ‘no’, this isn’t OK.

First Nations still fight for treaty rights. Some of the reserves still don’t have adequate water and sanitation systems. In this day and age, that isn’t acceptable.

We need to work as a country to make changes. We need to ensure that everyone has the quality of life we all strive for. No one should be left behind if we want to call ourselves a developed country.

This Canada Day, I’d encourage people to celebrate the great aspects of this country. I hope we can embrace people’s differences and move forward to a brighter future.

Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I believe if we strive forward, we can continue to make gains. With education and open discussions about a variety of subjects, we could begin to change attitudes.