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Evan Saugstad: Canada is worth celebrating

July 1 is about celebrating who we once were, where we came from, how we got here, what we have become, and the future we all know that, with grit and determination, can and will be much brighter and better than yesterday. 
Canada Day 2019 in Fort St. John.

July 1, Canada Day, our national birthday, a day to celebrate and a day to appreciate the country we are. Unfortunately, not all share this view and some believe that celebrating Canada Day is not something we should be proud to do, and instead that we should spend the day mourning our woes.

For those who are tired of following one negative news story after another and have now tuned themselves out, there are community leaders in parts of Canada who question the need or validity of a national day of celebration, and believe that if we are to have our day, it should not be about Canada, not be about our country we are proud to be part of, but be a day we reflect on everything that is wrong.

Nothing like the woke to take our happy and sunny day, and try turn it into something that sounds mean, ominous, and part of the netherworld. OK, their choice, but for the rest of us who like happy times and refuse to be dragged into the darkness, celebrating our history is part of our day.

The Canadian Federation was officially created on July 1, 1867, which makes July 1, 2022, our 155th birthday. Full stop and period: it is Canada’s birthday. The Dominion of Canada was created in 1861 when three British North American regions joined together to begin what we now call Canada. The year 2022 makes this the 161st anniversary of that event.

Who cares about semantics such as age, as July 1 is about celebrating our Canada, one of the world’s best countries to live in and be part of, a great country to which we should all be proud of and value as our own.

I do, and I know most other Canadians and all those waiting and wishing to become Canadians, all share this same view. Canada is worth celebrating. For one day, who cares that, sometimes, we are governed by clowns and the inept, or that we as a country do make mistakes; tomorrow is when we can address those issues.

Alas, not everyone shares my rose-coloured view. Apparently, some do not wish to have one day of 365 where we can take the time to celebrate what is good, be happy for what we excel at, and for a change, recognize that it is OK to be happy for who we are and rejoice in that moment.

And yes, there is a minority who are working overtime to try and convince the majority that Canada does not deserve its own day, that this day should be about something else. Like a day to remember that we forced some Canadians to attend residential schools, or that some who attended churches, schools, mosques and government offices have been shot, or that we burn churches in protest, or run-over minorities with our vehicles as an expression of hatred, or any other number of atrocities that have and, unfortunately, continue to occur. Instead of taking the time to think and remember what is good about our country, they wish the rest of us to live and be stuck in their little dark worlds.

And yes, there are also those who wish to change the name to reflect that Canada is not really Canada, that being Canadian is not really who we are, and that Canada does not really belong to all people of Canada. And yes, I know there were people living here before Canada was created and yes, I understand that not all agree with the creation of Canada and not all agree with what Canada has become. But for one day, I can forget all that, as tomorrow, those thoughts will still be with us.

To all those who wish for something otherwise, go ahead, wish for what you want, believe what you do, feel free to say your piece, but in doing so, show a bit of respect to the rest of us and pick another day to mourn your sadness. After all, as a parent, would you take the time on your child’s birthday to tell them everything they have done wrong in their entire life, refuse to wish them a happy birthday and celebrate their special day by making them stand in the corner?

July 1 is about celebrating who we once were, where we came from, how we got here, what we have become, and the future we all know that, with grit and determination, can and will be much brighter and better than yesterday. 

Go ahead, celebrate how you wish, be it in your own language, dancing to your own music, hanging with your friends or just doing and say nothing. Be thankful for a Canada where you are still free you to choose and make your own choices, where it doesn’t matter how you celebrate. Like you, I will enjoy the Canada I am proud to be part of and will celebrate in my own way that honours our country.

Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.

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