Sorry people. I can’t get behind all these negative Canada150 comments going around on social media. I understand that Canada has a spotty history, as all countries do, and we should remember the things we’ve done wrong so we don’t repeat the same mistakes, but Canada is a great country.

Yes, we’ve treated our Indigenous people poorly and that should be remembered but we should also remember that progress has been made. More and more people are becoming sympathetic to what our Indigenous people have gone through. According to a Postmedia article quoting an Environics poll, eight out of 10 Canadians believe that Canadians have a role to play in reconciliation and nine out of 10 believe that the abuses suffered by our Indigenous people should be taught in schools.

Just last week, the Prime Minister renamed the Langevin building, home of the Prime Minister’s Office, because of its namesake’s role in the residential schools system, and dedicated the former U.S. embassy across from Parliament Hill for an Indigenous use. I didn’t vote for the Trudeau government in the last election but I can honestly say I’ve never seen a leader try so hard to improving relations with the First Nations. So this is progress.

So how long do we remember the sins of those who have gone before us? Under Nazi rule, six million Jews were killed but Germany and its leadership are clearly not where they were back then. They’ve progressed. Should we keep treating them like they’re still that same country or celebrate that progress has been made?

If your child got an F in elementary school but now they’re getting B’s do you still hold the F’s over their head or do you celebrate where they’ve come to?

What people are looking for is a home run when it comes to correcting the errors of the past when we should be celebrating that we’re on first base. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re not where we used to be.

The reality is change takes time. The World Trade Center was destroyed in minutes but it took twelve years to build it back. Often the rebuilding process takes longer than the actual time it took for the damage to be done.

Canada Day

(credit: GoToVan/CC BY 2.0)

But despite our mistakes, Canada has done a lot of good in the world.

Canada was a safe haven for Black people fleeing the United States through the underground railroad. Canada was a refuge for Vietnamese boat people. Canada opened its arms to masses of Caribbean people like my parents in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Inuit people got a territory of their own. Even if that happened in 1999, it’s still a part of the Canada150 story. We’re now putting a Black woman on one of our dollar bills and have given Syrian refugees a new home.

Without Canada the world wouldn’t have basketball, telephones, insulin, and some amazing music.

We can’t forget the bad things that have happened and more work needs to be done, but we’ve evolved and made progress and we’re on a journey.

This Canada Day, while a lot of Canadians are refusing to celebrate, whether it’s because of the mistakes we’ve made, or because Nunavut and Newfoundland came into Confederation later than the rest of Canada, or because Quebec is a distinct people that don’t always feel like they relate to their fellow Canadians, there will be refugees and immigrants who escaped atrocities and now call Canada home who will gladly wave their flags. I don’t say this to minimize the impact of our mistakes but to remember that we still have so much to be thankful for.

Canada is still a great country. We deserve to celebrate.

Kevin Bourne_Author2

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