What does being Canadian mean to me?
It means being born in a place so geographically different than other countries in the world. We are so lucky to be built upon the Great Canadian Shield, a system of lakes, and three oceanic coasts. How lucky are we to be so dynamic?
Even our diversity of culture makes us stand apart. From the Aboriginal People who were here first, to the colonization of Europeans that led to us having two official languages– Canada accepts people for who they are without trying to change them to be something they are not. We are a country that allows freedom of religion with no persecution, and in July 2005 we became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. In general Canadians are looking for equality amongst our population, making sure everyone feels accepted.
We have come so far and we are still young in comparison to Europe and Asia. However we have managed to cover so much ground in becoming independent and identifying ourselves amongst the other countries of the world. As horrific as WWI and WWII were, our troops were able to make a difference. Whether it be at Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, Dieppe, or the Battle of Passchendale– Canadians were able to make their mark. Countries started calling them “storm troopers” and they eventually became a voice to listen to.
In 1982 we continued to seek our independence in the Constitution Act which essentially meant we could now change the Canadian Constitution without getting approval from the British Government. This brings a smile to my face because it shows that we are continuing towards further growth in politics. I mean every country has that black sheep, their very own Rob Ford– but even though our government has a long-long way to improve we should be thankful for the progress we have made.
After the 1956 Suez Crisis Canadians have been active participants of United Nations missions. Over 125,000 Canadians have participated in close to 50 UN missions. This includes one of my heroes the Lieutenant-General the Honorable Roméo A. Dallaire who was the Force Commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda in 1993.
Dallaire was not afraid to speak up against the injustice happening in Rwanda and trying to stop a genocide. To his dismay others would not listen to reason and open their eyes to the ineffectiveness of the mandate. Dallaire is a role-model for his ability to stand up for what he believes in. He has recently been seen as an author and public speaker at universities, trying to put action in the hearts of young people.
Therefore I think the reason I am proud to be Canadian is because we are taught to carry a moral code of kindness, equality, and a responsibility to do what’s right. We are granted so many freedoms and benefits– free health coverage, democracy, and thanks to so many that have held these morals before us, we have been able to hold a popular reputation that is known amongst the world for standing apart. We are Canadians, and that does mean something.
Happy Canada’s Day!