For some, Canada Day will always be an excuse for a party.
In line with celebrations the world over, our July 1 holiday has always been a time to celebrate the arrival of summer, a chance to get together with friends and relatives to enjoy the sun, the outdoors, backyard barbecues and the simple joy of living.
As we gradually emerge from the strictures imposed by a world-wide pandemic, the need for a celebration is even more pressing.
Yet, given the symbolic nature of Canada Day, it’s all the more important that we take time today to reflect on what Canada – and being Canadian – truly means to us.
The bitter reality of the discovery of the graves of close to 1,000 Indigenous children at the sites of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan can’t be denied.
We must recognize that this has been a devastating reopening of past wounds for our Indigenous brothers and sisters. It has rightly shaken many Canadians’ self-awareness to the core – no matter what race, faith or belief system we identify with.
Does this mean that Canada Day should be cancelled? It’s worth noting that even Indigenous leaders – aware that past evils are something all of us inherited, rather than created – are among the first to say that there is still much for Canadians to celebrate together. Appreciating the splendours of our natural environment; the accomplishments of Canadians in the sciences, arts, sports and other realms; the past and present sacrifice of first responders and armed forces members – and the often unsung manifestations of generosity and compassion we see, daily, from ordinary people of all backgrounds and faiths – these are things we can legitimately take pride in this Canada Day.
In those shared values remains our best hope to counter the evils of the past and ultimately to build a better, brighter future.