By Tammy Schneider
I’m as guilty as anyone for not taking the time to stop and smell the roses, of not stopping to be thankful when I should. But as we celebrated Canada Day, with parades, flags and fireworks, it wasn’t hard at all to feel patriotic and grateful for living in the best country in the world.
From the food (poutine, nanaimo bars and peameal bacon) to the landscape that includes over 31,000 lakes (five of them great – not just good – but great), mountains, oceans, islands and tundra.
We have the Blue Jays, seven NHL teams and our beloved Raptors and, fingers-crossed, we may soon have Kawhi Leonard. Our Olympic athletes compete shoulder-to-shoulder with other nations and we continue to bring home the gold, silver and bronze.
Some of the finest music in the world has come out of Canada. Bryan Adams, The Tragically Hip, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Celine Dion and Diana Krall all hail from Canada. And the Beebs was born just up the road in Stratford.
We have Rick Mercer.
We invented the pacemaker, insulin and the snow blower, and every Canadian worth their salt knows that Bell created the telephone, Jacques Plante invented the goalie mask and a Canadian, James Naismith, invented the game of basketball.
We are a diverse, multicultural nation. Over 200,000 immigrants every year enter through our borders, bringing with them new cultures, languages and talents that enhance the Canadian way of life.
We are a democratic nation. Our elected officials, regardless of their political stripe, don’t always get it right (but who does), but when they don’t, we have the right to change who our leaders are. We can make these, and many other changes, by using our voices and our votes. We have opportunity. We can enact change. We have hope.
If I’ve painted too rosy a picture, please excuse me. Our country is not without its problems. We need to take better care of our veterans. We need to make amends to those of indigenous heritage that have been wronged and help them build a better future. We need a plan to safeguard our environment and foster that need to protect the earth in other countries. We have problems with homelessness, mental illness and poverty.
My husband is a first-generation Canadian. His family knows the tragedy and chaos that comes from living in a country that doesn’t live by the values that we take for granted and hold so dear. His parents fled war and poverty with little more than a suitcase of personal effects in order to create a better, safer life for themselves and the generations that would follow them. They knew Canada held that promise.
As I waved my flag this past weekend, I did it with gratitude in my heart and the belief that Canada is truly the best place in the world to live. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Happy Canada Day.
By Tammy Schneider