On Monday (Nov. 11), as we as a nation take the time to honour all those who have served in the military throughout the history of this country – let’s remember the reason why men and women have stepped forward to put their lives on the line to defend Canada.
They didn’t join the army, navy or airforce because they were from Ontario or Quebec or Alberta – they joined because they were Canadians who answered the call of duty during conflicts and during periods of peace.
They stepped up and took on the job of defending this country and its values in a world that was at war, or could at any point in time be at war.
They served as past generations of Canadians, in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, they signed up for United Nations Peacekeeping efforts in various conflicts and more recently they have served in Afghanistan.
Since the day Canada became a country, it has had those who are willing to put their lives on the line, and have made that ultimate sacrifice for what they believe in – this nation and the values it represents.
Being Canadian is not about being born here. It is not about pointing our fingers south of the border and proclaiming – we’re not Americans – to define us.
Being Canadian is about acknowledging and honouring that every single human being is valued and has rights that are inalienable by definition.
It is about our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the confederation of provinces and territories that represent a vast and diverse expanse of landscapes and peoples. But, even our differences bring us together and make us the same.
We are not the melting pot – we are the country that welcomes newcomers as they are and supports them even if they are different.
Being Canadian is about having one of the highest and best qualities of life in the entire developed world – and we didn’t get that be sitting on the sidelines when the world has erupted in conflicts. We have achieved this great nation status through hard work, determination and doing what is right in a world that can sometimes be full of grey zones.
So as we gather on Remembrance Day to honour and respect every single veteran that has served this country – it is time to reflect on what exactly it was they believed in that inspired them to do so.
This is even more important because we live in fractured times. There are those in the western provinces that are advancing an agenda of separation from Canada – the country their ancestors defended with their lives and that current Canadians also serve. All because they didn’t like the election results.
But that’s not how Canadians respond to challenge or conflict. We don’t give up on ourselves just because things are difficult. Our past veterans certainly didn’t and current Canadians won’t either.
The Canadian way is to double down and work even harder to fight for the country they believe in to create the future that respects our underlying value system, rights and freedoms.
Freedoms aren’t free you see. We have to consistently be on guard to ensure they stay in place and apply to everyone regardless of who they are or what they’ve done. Freedoms are not optional and every single person that has sacrificed themselves to protect them deserves to be recognized and honoured.
As we gather on Monday to do just that, keep in mind that they were and are Canadians just like the rest of us. That is something to be proud of even if you don’t like who the prime minister is.
They put themselves in harm’s way to defend this way of life – whether they were from Vancouver Island, Cape Breton or anywhere between.
They believed enough in this country to fight for it – keep that in your mind and them in your hearts.