Another Canada Day and another trip to the lake for my annual attempt at photographing the fireworks. Each year I learn a little more, and as my photography generally improves I take better photographs. I’m quite happy with this years results.
For the last 6 years or so, Canada Day has become a day for spending time with friends and family, enjoying the sunshine, doing a little sailing, playing a little music, and generally enjoying life. This year was a little different in that the weather was not quite as wonderful as usual and many of our musical friends were out of town. However, it was still a wonderfully enjoyable day.
Canada day is also a time I reflect on life in Canada. As many on you know, Canada didn’t choose me, but I chose to live here in Canada. It is an amazing country with a geographic diversity that still captures my imagination, twenty years on since I first arrived. I also chose Canada because of the people that live here and their general attitude towards others. Canadians are, as a whole, wonderful, kind, tolerant, and generous people. So, in a kind of schmaltzy–and might I say Canadian–way, thanks Canada for being such an incredible place, and thanks to the people of Canada for being who you are.
As always, there are things that don’t sit so well with me. I have bit of a problem with the whole “Happy Birthday Canada, you are 143 years old today”. In many ways, Canada Day represents the day that we officially said to the people that were here first “we don’t really care about you, this place is ours now”. Depending on your point of view, what happened over the last couple of centuries to the indigenous peoples of Canada ranged from a misguided attempt to help and cohabitate to complicit genocide.
I know I cant change what happened in the past. But I do know that the way future generations view this year, this decade, and the people that inhabit this time, is up to us. The choices we make– from how we interact with people in the street, the way we view the world around us, and the political parties and causes we support–all make a difference. Those choices set the tone for the national consciousness and define who we are as a people.
At the risk of being cliched, there are two Gandhi quotes I will finish with. First there is the ubiquitous “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. If we want a better world, we have to practice living a better life, whatever that looks like in your mind. But with issues like the gulf oil spill, economic meltdowns, police behavior at the G20 in Toronto, and the general conflict, strife, inequity and poverty that engulfs a large portion of the planet, it is easy to loose heart. I know I feel this way sometimes, but in the words of Gandhi “Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it”.