I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone. Edith Cavell
I am Canadian. I don’t wear my flag on my sleeve or have it tattooed on my chest just above my heart. I keep my patriotism tucked inside my back pocket between the pages of a well worn blue leather passport stamped with the Canadian shield, forged in the hard rock of this nation carved out of the mighty forests and stones and ice that once covered this great land. I don’t roar. I don’t leap tall buildings and plant flags upon every roof. I don’t scream out ‘my country, oh my country’ from river valleys and mountain peaks.
I wear my patriotism quietly. Serenely. I wear it as my badge. Of honour. Of respect. Of duty. I don’t seek out confrontation. I don’t seek out fame. I seek to be a peacekeeper, a mediator, a consensus maker. I seek to find the common ground, the peaceful way. I seek to find that place where we can live together, in harmony, side-by-side, creating a mosaic of our faith, our cultures, our traditions.
No matter what I do, or how I do it. No matter my state of grace, of war or peacetime, I state my patriotism quietly and unequivocally, I am of Canada. True north strong and free. I am Canadian and I am proud of my country.
I am Canadian.
I have the right to vote and the freedom to express my opinion without fearing for my life.
I drive on the right side of the road. I have a car. I have a home. I have a job that I love. I have the right to oppose my government. I have the right to speak out.
I don’t carry a gun. I carry a passport that promises me safe passage anywhere in the world I choose to go.
Because, as a Canadian I have choice.
Being Canadian is not about not being American. Being Canadian is about claiming my right to live in a country where tolerance and justice share equal voice with compassion and the right to a fair defence.
We don’t have the death penalty in Canada. I’m proud of that.
And, as we seem to lose more and more of what makes us different than being American, I fear the loss of safety on our streets. I fear the loss of freedom in our schools.
As we become more ‘politically correct’, I fear the loss of Santa Claus and O Canada in our schools. I am Canadian and I am proud to celebrate Christmas and Easter. I am proud my neighbour is free to celebrate Hanukkah or Ramadan.
I am Canadian means I live in a land where the tapestry of nations woven together in our vast and varied lands creates a rich and vibrant world of colour. Stitched together across a land where every voice is equal.
I am Canadian and I stand proud before the Maple Leaf, shoulder to shoulder with my brethren, no matter our skin colour, no matter our belief as we sing loud and clear, “O Canada, my home and native land.”
And then I realize in my oh so Canadian conscience that the very words of our national anthem deny the truth of one-third of our population who do not claim Canada as their ‘native land’.
Oh dear. Best we change the words so everyone feels they belong in this amazing land called Canada.
I am Canadian.