Canada Day is tomorrow. We’ve seen the 100, the 125 and now the 150th anniversary of our country. From our naive innocence of 1967, to our more grizzled 2017, we’ve seen the bumps and bruises of being a country in this world of ours.
Canada is not perfect, nor is everything here wonderful with unicorns and rainbows for all. We’ve had and continue to have problems. We’ll have more going to 175, 200 and beyond, but there is something down deep in our collective Canadian souls that make us resilient, quietly proud and distinctly Canadian.
As an example, on Parliament Hill tomorrow, there will be 500,000 to 750,000 people coming together on the front lawn of our federal legislative seat. There will be drinking, face painting, singing, dancing and of course, shenanigans. A group of First Nations folks sneaked into the area last night and set up a teepee to protest and to celebrate their role in Canada, completely without permission from the authorities. The authorities reacted as only Canadians would: They encouraged the First Nations folks to move the teepee up closer to the stage. Permit? Um, we’ll get that next week, don’t sweat it.
My family came to Canada during the American Revolutionary War, having been prosperous textile merchants near Boston. One night a group of the lads invited the family to either die in the fire that was going to happen in a half-hour, or get the hell out of Massachusetts. Ontario looked promising and off they went that night: United Empire Loyalists who left everything behind and started over in a new country.
There are millions of other stories like it. Leaving Ireland, Scotland, France, or Syria. Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Finland, China, Ukraine, Russia, Lebanon, Ethiopia, the US, or any other country you can name. Starting over, working hard, keeping the old roots and growing new ones in this new land.
That perhaps is our secret. We recognize we’re all from Away and at the same time recognize we’re also all Here determined to make it work.
To sum up, here’s a song that many, many Canadians recognize as being, if not the most quintessential one, certainly in the top three. If you know the words, sing along.
Happy birthday to us.