Today was Canada’s birthday. She’s 145 now! Young by European and Asian standards. But old enough to have developed its own personality.
There are a pile of different ways that people celebrate Canada Day. What’s nice to see is that no matter how big the city or how small the town, everyone celebrates. For some it might involve a festival. For Ottawa, my hometown, it often involves making the trek to Parliament Hill to put a blanket down on the lawn in front of the Peace Tower and having a party with tens of thousands of your closest friends. 🙂 It really is a fun time. I haven’t done it for a while and I’d like to do it again. The festive feeling on The Hill is contagious. You can’t help but enjoy yourself. And after a fun day of music and other festivities, the icing on the cake is a wonderful fireworks display.
For me, if I’m not on The Hill, then I like to be outdoors. What better way to celebrate the existence of our beautiful country than to get out into it. That can involve hiking, paddling, cycling… anything where I get outdoors and get to enjoy and appreciate the stunning scenery we have all around us. Today we went paddling. Hauled out the kayaks and headed to a nearby creek that opens up into Christie Lake, the lake across the road from where we live. We hadn’t had the kayaks out in nearly 2 years. It was nice to dust them off. And what better way to enjoy our nation’s anniversary, than to paddle one of its thousands of lakes.
Spending the day outdoors reminds me of the beauty of our country. And it gives me some quiet time to reflect on our country and to appreciate it. We are very, very lucky here in Canada to have a very high standard of living. We have a lot to be thankful for. Like any country, we have some rough edges. But perfection isn’t the goal. The goal is to develop a nation where nobody goes without, where everyone gets to see a doctor when they are sick (or even when they are not. We can afford preventative medicine). Where if you’re willing to work hard, you can make a good living. Sure, there are circumstances that mean some people don’t enjoy the things that many of us have. But our society strives to minimize the number of people who go without.
I’ve been fortunate to have traveled a lot. I’ve seen a decent chunk of the world. And I’ve been an immigrant to two different countries – the United States and New Zealand. I’ve traveled to countries that don’t have the standard of living we are used to here. I’ve spent 4 of the 7 years I lived in the U.S. unable to afford health care. I know what it’s like to not have money to visit the doctor and so instead, you spend your Sunday afternoon mending your newly broken finger. Smearing antibiotic cream on the open wound and then sucking on popsicles so that I’d have two popsicle sticks to splint my broken finger. And then swallow a pile of ibuprofen in the hopes of dulling the pain. And I was lucky! It was only a broken finger. It could have been way worse. So when I hear fellow Canadians complain about our health care system, I get a bit angry. Is it perfect? No. Is anything perfect? No. Is there room for improvement? Yes. But let’s focus on what we do have and not on what we don’t. Yes, we should always strive to find innovative ways to improve the system. Health Care is distinctly Canadian. It’s part of our national identity. Let’s work to fix it instead of complaining about it. And if you really want an eye opener, go to some very poor countries where access to clean drinking water is not a given. It will leave you with some very sobering things to think about.
So, on Canada Day, I hope you spend the day having fun and celebrating all the good things about our country. Reflect on what we do have and be thankful for it.
To my Canadian readers, I hope you’ve had a fun-filled Canada Day, regardless of where in the world you live. It seems that no matter where Canadians live, they always celebrate Canada Day, in some way. Let the fireworks begin! 🙂
And to my readers in the United States, Happy Independence Day on Wednesday.