The world is an increasingly stressful and overwhelming place these days.
While social media claims to be bringing us closer toghether, it is also creating deep divides within our communities and across the entire planet. Climate change is increasingly a threat to human populations, but nobody can seem to agree on how to fix it, or even if we can.
But if there is one thing the world could use more of right now, it’s Canada.
Or Canadians, to be more specific.
Canada Day, it just so happens, is a great time to reflect on what that means and to push beyond the clichés of the pleasantness our nationality is known for, or how often we say sorry – eh?
But here’s the thing, maybe saying sorry is more than a platitude for Canadians and is truly a characteristic to be admired.
It takes strength to realize, acknowledge and then apologize for mistakes in life. Is there not grace in acknowledging how there is a cause and effect at play with everything we do, whether we are individuals or we are a nation? Our actions in this world are not without consequence and we are responsible for what we do and say regardless of our intentions.
Beyond excuses for the past or what our intentions were, being known for saying sorry is something we should be proud of as a country. We should be grateful we are able to admit when we were wrong.
Because as a country, Canada has done harm. The list includes the cultural genocide committed against Indigenous people our government has actively engaged in; the continued genocide that is occurring to Indigenous women; the internment of Ukrainians and others of Eastern European descent during the First World War; Japanese and Italian Canadians during the Second World War; a head tax on Chinese Canadians between 1885-1923; the treatment of the LGTBQ+ community; and the Komagata Maru incident.
All of these instances where we as a country have apologized for our actions or inactions, have something in common. They were all actions against people considered to be unworthy, unwelcome, or different. The human beings affected by these events were seen as “the other” and dismissed.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became part of the constitution in 1982 and with it has come the slow progress of human rights in our society.
Part of that process has been recognizing past wrongs, where human rights were violated, and apologizing.
But the world today needs more than just admitting mistakes and apologies, worthwhile as they are. It needs us as Canadians to uphold the values we enshrined in the charter and demand change at all levels of our society.
Change to how we treat all human beings,
regardless of their sex, age, religion, race or sexual orientation. As Canadians, we have a reputation for being welcoming and nice, but when we still live with the effects of these mistakes from our past, we have to do more than just say we are sorry. We have to find a way to remove the institutionalized discrimination that is the legacy of this country’s origins and efforts to destroy Indigenous cultures.
We have to be more Canadian than we are now – we should be standing up and saying to the world we have learned this lesson and it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
When we look around us and see our allies seperating children from their parents and putting them into concentration camps, we should stand up and be heard.
When we are told that groups within our society continue to be subjected to a slow genocide of indifference, like Indigenous women are facing every day, we shouldn’t debate the meaning of the word genocide, we should be appalled and demand change.
As Canadians, it isn’t enough to just be sorry, we should demand more of ourselves and others and find solutions.
The world needs for an example to be set now more than ever and who better than us as Canadians?