So here we are.
It’s first thing in the morning as I begin to write this. The sun’s up, there’s a little mist right over the water, the sailboats lie at anchor in Ganges Harbour on water as calm and smooth as glass, and it promises to be a glorious summer day. I’ve just poured my first cup of coffee.
Depending on where in this vast land you are, you might be eating breakfast, finished breakfast, halfway thru your morning, or maybe even starting to think about lunch. If you’re in Newfoundland, you’re in a time zone that’s half an hour closer to London, England than it is to Salt Spring Island, BC. Across such distance, one might think we should have nothing in common. And yet, we do.
When he was Premier, Danny Williams referred to Newfoundland and Labrador as “this bloody awesome province.” He delivered that line in such a way that you couldn’t help but be proud to be a Newfoundlander-by-association. I propose that we steal his line, change it just a little, and use it to describe the nation: this bloody awesome country we call Canada.
Because it’s punchy, it’s accurate, and it’s true.
I’ve been around long enough to experience our nation’s hundredth anniversary, and today its 150th, and everything in between. Do you remember your first kiss? Mine was at Expo 67. (pause here for a moment of reverie, and then continue…) I’m nearly old enough to yell at you to get off my lawn.
But that just doesn’t seem like a very, um, Canadian thing to do.
No, this country of ours, imperfect as it is, the work-in-progress that it insists on being, if it were a lawn, would be a massive meadow where everyone was welcome and you would be expected to walk on the grass. (You might have to line up in an orderly fashion to do so, this being Canada and all, and of course, being Canadian, you would.)
So take the long weekend. Drink it in. Appreciate everything we are as a nation. Celebrate how we’ve evolved. Dream about what we could become in another 50 years.
And then on Tuesday, let’s all get to work. On reconciling with indigenous Canadians who’ve been here for 13 thousand years. We are not responsible for the sins of our fathers, but we are required to clean up the mess they made and finally build right relations. And on changing ourselves, the way we live and the ways in which we make our living, so that we leave a healthy planet for our descendants.
Those are two mighty challenges, to be sure.
But I think our great strength as a nation is our willingness to recognize our imperfection and our determination to work on it. I believe that’s written on our bloody awesome, collective national soul.
Happy birthday, Canada!