There has been much discussion about Canada Day this year, from the impacts of COVID reducing our ability to gather to the challenges Canadians have in reconciling our history with the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential schools, to the increased division and alienation that many of our citizens feel. Canadians, including myself, are concerned about the direction of our country, but in the midst of these trying times, I am convinced that Canada is worth it.
The challenges we face presently, and the injustices of our past, are too often used by a vocal minority who try to attack the very idea of Canada and the aspirations our country should represent. We are seeing the literal tearing down of figures from our past and a concerted attempt to erase it, not just the bad but the good as well — all of which are resulting in talk of Canada Day being cancelled. Canada Day should not just be about a party, parade, and fireworks, it is a chance for Canadians to recognize our nation and all it represents.
Canada is not perfect, nor should we ever suggest that those who led our nation in its past were perfect, but when our brave women and men have defended our country, they fought for freedom and what was right regardless of the debates about our history. There are efforts by many to tear our nation down, divide citizens, and erode the basis of our free and democratic country. We can and should work towards being better, empower the aspirations of all Canadians, be proud of what we have accomplished, and we can remain united in the midst of an unprecedented time of polarization and division. We can and need to acknowledge our nation’s past injustices, as well as the pain and trauma that was caused, while always taking the opportunity to reaffirm our desire to do better.
Shortly after being sworn in as a Member of Parliament, I learned that a family member who died in the final months of the Second World War would be honoured by his “Book of Remembrance” page being shown in Parliament’s “Hall of Honour.” My great, great uncle, like so many others, paid the ultimate sacrifice when donning our nation’s uniform to fight for our country and the values it represents. Not a day has gone by since being elected where the significance of those sacrifices has not been at the top of my mind.
Canadians all over our great nation, from many different backgrounds and perspectives, contribute economically, socially, and culturally to the fabric of our society. The strength of Canada hinges on the ability of different people, ideas, and regions being able to respect each other under shared values. I am confident that a united Canada will be able to handle any adversity that comes our way, including the need to address present concerns and historical injustices.
We don’t need to cancel Canada Day. I would suggest that doing so takes away from our ability to chart a path forward that reconciles the past with our present and provides a purpose to move forward.
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