I wonder what people think when I tell them I am Canadian. If I’m in a third-world country, they might think I am rich. If I’m in a communist country, they might think I am free. If I’m in the Middle East, they might think I am safe.
They are right. There’s a reason why Canada is the destination for many immigrants looking for their second home. While our neighbours down south have long been referred to as the ‘Land of Opportunity,’ Canada is now arguably the better option between the two.
We have public health care and education. Home ownership is within the grasp of many Canadians. We have viable industries and business hubs coast to coast. Your backyard can be the mountains, the plains, or the suburbs.
Certainly, we are not perfect – our legal and health care systems are congested, there is still a quiet discrimination towards minorities and first nations, and the debt to income ratio of the average Canadian is 167%. These are our first-world problems.
In 2017, being Canadian means more than being friendly; it means doing the right thing. I am proud to be Canadian, more so than I have ever felt before. Canada is 150 years young and we’re on our way to champion causes that will make us a global leader before our 200th birthday.
In 2008, the Canadian government publicly apologized for the cultural genocide of indigenous people and finally, in 2017, the new Canadian government has budgeted for much needed funding in infrastructure, housing, healthcare, and education for our First Nations. In Edmonton, we begin ceremonies and meetings by correctly acknowledging we are on Treaty 6 Land; a sign of respect for those who had kept our lands long before our fathers and mothers set foot in this glorious country.
On April 22, 2016, at the Paris Climate Accord, Canada signed the agreement to mitigate our contribution to climate change. Out of the industrialized nations, we produce far less emissions than China (20%), United States (17%), and India (5%), and Canada is dead serious about our 2%. It’s more than conversation – carbon pricing, evolution of transportation, industry and forestry, innovative clean technology, and investments into parks and protected areas – this is all in our near future.
Above is the photo of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, at Toronto’s 2017 Gay Pride Parade wearing Eid Mubarak socks. A little extra, I admit, but it’s representative of the space in our Canadian society for more culture and inclusion. The Edmonton-area is already leading the way for gender-neutral washrooms and medical marijuana production facilities. When did we get so progressive?
Barack Obama was referring to the 1990’s tourism slogan when he declared, “The world needs more Canada!” I would say the world needs more Canadians. More people who are humble. More people who value respect and equality. More people who are opportunistic. More people who do the right thing.