Some of the lyrics to our national anthem will change, but some will stay the same and end with the same exclamation point: O Canada!
And there’s good reason to exclaim and proclaim our love for our country, with Canada Day tomorrow (July 1).
A nation is sure to see changes year over year, and some of the changes over the past 12 months have been pronounced. We have elected a new federal government and prime minister since this time last summer. With those changes have come alterations to environmental priorities, economic strategies and especially, it seems, to social policies. Canada is progressing, we hope, toward greater equality and diversity and toward truth and reconciliation.
While Canadians will emblazon our country with symbols this Canada Day and wear red, drink beer and say, “eh,” the fact is that we aren’t a nation of hosers. Being Canadian is a complex and indefinable quality that means something a little bit different to each of us, and must remain so.
Sometimes in other countries – and probably here, too – nationalism can have a different meaning, at its worst, an ugly, racist meaning, as people seek to build walls along their borders, figuratively and literally. Patriotism can and should be so much better than that. Rather than celebrate selectively what we think Canada should be, let’s celebrate collectively the Canada in which we live. It’s OK if our country isn’t exactly what we want it to be. Indeed, we should never stop trying to make it better, and that will mean something different to each of us, and that’s fine, too. The more sources of national pride we find, the more reasons we have to celebrate on Canada Day.
Canada doesn’t lack a national identity, it’s just that we have a national identity that’s scattered beautifully into 35 million pieces, none more or less Canadian than another.
As our re-worded anthem suggests, “True patriot love in all of us command.” Exclamation point.