We Canadians live in a blind spot about our identity. We have very strong feelings about who we aren’t but only weak ones about who we are. We’re passionate about what we don’t want to become but oddly passive about what we should be.
John Cruickshank (in McLean’s Magazine)
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, our giant neighbour to the south against whom we are constantly comparing ourselves. 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 and culture. 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, we still didn’t get it right. We just changed the words of our national anthem to be inclusive of both male and females but 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 again so everyone feels they belong in this amazing land called Canada.
I am Canadian.