We are living through history and as this year’s Canada Day fast approaches, it presents an excellent opportunity to pause and take stock of what it means to be Canadian.
As we respond, individually and collectively, to the biggest public health crisis in more than a century, at the same time we grapple with the overwhelming need to challenge and change systemic racism in our society.
Canada has a shameful history of racism and that may seem like a counter-intuitive way to start an editorial focused on celebrating Canada Day, it doesn’t make it any less true.
However, that is no reason not to continue to be patriotic. It should be a reason to push even harder for change, because if anything, being Canadian is about recognizing the value of every single human life, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
It would seem that Canadian values have evolved faster than our institutions. It is going to be hard work over a long period of time to change the systemic nature of racism in Canada – but who else is up for challenge than us Canucks?
Canadians are resilient and industrious and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that in spades.
Many of us have listened to public health officials, recognized their expertise and followed their advice. The result, far lower levels of infections, hospitalizations and deaths than other jurisdictions throughout the world.
Instead of falling for arguments that place greater value on economic stability than the lives of those who live in long-term care, Canadians have stepped up to the challenge to keep the vulnerable safe.
We have found different ways to connect and support each other, even though we can’t hug, gather, sing or dance like we used to. We have changed the curve and for that we should be proud.
Canada Day itself will be like no other we have experienced before.
Instead of a bigger celebration, marking this historic moment and what we have so far accomplished, Canadians in the Bow Valley will have a much more private experience.
But just because you will be closer to home, without a parade, pancake breakfasts or fireworks, does not mean this isn’t an important occasion to celebrate.
Creative ideas have been explored and events like a house decorating contest in Canmore, or front yard barbecues.
It is the perfect time to reflect on what being a Canadian means to you now and what it should mean into the future.
Being Canadian means helping others when they are struggling, it means working together towards common goals, it means creating the conditions for everyone to have a better life.
It would also be an excellent opportunity to remind our provincially elected representatives that being part of Canada is also what being an Albertan is about.
There have been some recent discussions by our provincial government on ideas that would remove us from federal programs like the Canada Pension Plan and possibly create our own police force to replace the RCMP.
Times are tough right now for Albertans. Not just with COVID-19, but there is a crisis facing the energy sector that may be the fiscal reckoning Premier Jason Kenney has been trying at all cost to avoid.
But times are tough across this entire country. Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast are grappling with what is happening right now. The difference is that none of them are crying foul and demanding a “fair deal” at the expense of everyone else.
Alberta has for a long time been the leader of economic growth in this country and that enviable position has helped to support other Canadians as a result.
It is not very Canadian of us to look around the table that is confederation and take food off the plates of other provinces just because we are struggling more than we have before.