Yesterday was Canada’s 147 birthday as a nation (as opposed to an inhabited place). The Globe and Mail had asked people to submit reasons to love Canada, to total 147. The full list can be found here. I’m including below some quotations that reflect strongly how I feel about Canada:
My parents immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in the 1970s and I tease them often about their decision to leave a tropical island for the woolly sweaters of Ontario. But the truth is that I understood as a child, and even more so now, that their decision to come here had nothing to do with the weather. It was about finding a place where they could reach their full potential and raise three kids who would have the ability to reach theirs. And they weren’t the only ones – I love that so much of our country’s collective pride is wrapped up in the fact that so many Canadians weren’t born here but instead chose to be here. As a family travel writer I’ve taken my sons around the world and back. Each time we return and catch that first glimpse of a Canadian flag we’re reminded of all that it stands for – and how lucky we are to call it home.
Canadians have a distinguishing social generosity. Peacefulness, fair-mindedness, understanding and tolerance. Although we, as a society, have to remind ourselves of this because it’s easy to lose sight of. That is what being Canadian means to us, and what in all our travels, really sets Canada apart.
On Canada Day I reflect on the immense compassion our country represents before the world. It extends from the stewardship of our natural riches to the respect we have for the people we live and work with. Compassion fosters our fundamentals of diversity and education that exist from east to west, providing the oxygen of immense economic opportunity.
Canada is the best country because you can walk into someone and they will apologize first.
My parents, sister, and I emigrated to Canada many years ago. When I landed in Canada, I made a silent promise to myself to love my new country, no matter what happened. It’s been a journey of love since then. Last month, I had the opportunity to revisit the country where I was born; while it was good to visit old haunts, family, and school friends, it did not feel like home. The moment I was on the flight back to Canada, with a plane load of fellow Canadians, I thought “I’m home.” I am Canadian by choice; I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to live in this extraordinary country, and I thank God every day that I can call this country home. I still have a pesky non-Canadian accent, and am often asked “where are you from?” Canada, I reply. “No, where are you really from?” Toronto, I reply (I live in Halifax now). I refuse to hyphenate my identity. While I am proud of my cultural heritage and embrace it, being Canadian has nothing to do with being born here; it’s a question of choice, attitude, and a state of mind. This is my home; it’s the place where I belong. It’s where I want to live for the rest of my life, and where I want to die and be buried. It’s a country where diversity is welcomed, where there is a commitment to social justice, and the common good, where people are kind and gentle to one another, where people pitch in to help with no thought of personal gain. It’s a country of magnificent and varied physical landscapes and breathtaking beauty. It’s a country where people have a self-deprecating and witty humour, where no one is allowed to take themselves too seriously (especially politicians), and where the willingness to find common groundlies at the heart of all dealings and negotiations. Canadians are called nice and polite; to some, this may be the equivalent of dull and boring, but to me, it’s about the kindness that permeates all levels of society here.
Thank you, Canada, for giving me a home where I belong, and for providing me with innumerable opportunities to grow. This truly is the best country in the world.