Next week we celebrate the birthday of our country. It is a country well worth celebrating.
Canada is like no other country. It has changed since its birth in 1867 and how it has changed says much about Canadians, both in the past and in the present. We are an adaptable bunch and unusually fair-minded.
While we share an extremely long border with the United States, neither country has ever felt compelled to build fortifications to protect ourselves from each other. That does not occur in many parts of our strife-torn world. There is no reason that state of affairs should change anytime in the future.
We share a lot of things with our American neighbours but maintain our own uniqueness at the same time. While we enjoy the same entertainments, drive the same cars and live in similar communities, we remain very different. Generally we like our American neighbours even to the point of referring to them as cousins. While doing so, we take pride in being significantly different in many ways.
We are not Americans with good manners as some in that country have suggested. We are much more than that.
The founding stock of both countries was drawn from the same European source. In both countries they brought with them the skills, values and attitudes they had in their home countries. What is a wonder is how differently each country evolved into nationhood. It is kind of like two siblings who end up leading very different and contrasting lives despite coming from the same family.
The United States of America was born out of revolution with all the attendant violence and bloodshed. Canada was the child of almost endless negotiations endeavouring to accommodate all. Perhaps that was the genesis of the different attitudes we take in dealing with a situation. In America the response may likely be something to the effect of “let’s get this done come hell, high water or hurt feelings”. In Canada the attitude toward a similar problem would be to discuss it, dissect it, listen to everyone and give value to their feelings and try to accommodate all. We usually succeed.
From the foundation of this country of ours we recognized differences and found a way to accommodate those differences. We accepted the fact that there was a significant part of our population from a French tradition. Rather than insisting they integrate into what was basically a British tradition, the founders of our nation found a way to accommodate both. Even after a century and a half, it still works. Not without some problems and frustration, but it still works.
That attitude and experience put us in an excellent position to welcome others from many parts of the world. We encouraged them to keep some of their traditions and became a richer society because of it. All citizens are expected to obey the laws but are free to work politically to change those laws they may disagree with. On occasion, they have a better idea and we benefit from that.
We have become a multicultural mosaic. We started with a few tiles and have added many more over the life of the nation. Life is more colourful and diverse because of what others have brought us. Celebrate the differences.
In this city there will be lots of festivities, food and friendships at Fort George Park on July 1. Take the time to come down and enjoy, you may well end up a little richer for the experience.