How Patriotic are You?


This Lynne, one of the kindest gentlest people I know. I think you can figure out where she stands.

Today was Canada Day and I asked a number of my friends, ‘How patriotic are you?”  In other words, was it appropriate to celebrate Canada Day after all that has happened in on Canada in the last few weeks?  Who feels comfortable celebrating Canada Day.  Some say they were not comfortable with that. I know someone who said she will not celebrate Canada Day again. Others felt it was appropriate to celebrate, but with some important qualifications.

This is Jenn and Kel. They are funny, kind and empathetic.

I love my country. I always have and probably always will.  Yet, I am bothered by recent history I have learned, particularly since I read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. That disturbed me a lot. Since then I have tried to learn more about the history of the country I love. Some of that history is not something to be proud.  As a T-shirt said that I saw recently, “No pride in genocide.”  I do not like it when our country is lumped in with the genocides of Nazi Germany, Russia, China, Serbia, Rwanda, and the United States. That bothers me and I admit I was a bit reluctant to celebrate today.

My lovely wife Chris, reluctant to celebrate, but ready to enjoy life.

It really depends on your point of view. If you are looking at our country from a comfortable pew, as Pierre Burton called it, the country looks pretty good. We have a lot to be thankful for. We have freedom and opportunity to earn and enjoy a good life. Yet if you are looking from the line at our local soup kitchen or if you are one of the many indigenous children in care of the state where they put you in a foster home or even worse a hotel, things don’t look quite so good. They have less to be thankful for than I do. For indigenous children who suffer from intergenerational trauma life is not so good. Too often people from the comfort of good jobs, safe homes, and communities where we are respected find it easy to enjoy Canada. Sometimes we don’t see our own privilege.

Lynne and her radical husband ready to start the revolution–tomorrow.  2 of the finest.

If you think Canada is the best country what are you doing to make it so?  If you recognize that life could surely be a lot better for those less fortunate what are you doing to help them?

This is your faithful scribe, trying to meander towards truth and justice but finding it difficult.

When we celebrate Canada Day we must make sure that we do so with eyes wide open, not denying or ignoring the suffering of others. We must not avoid Canada’s sins.  They are more than blemishes. No matter what we think the evidence is clear: we can do better? We should do better.

2 thoughts on “How Patriotic are You?

  1. You and Chris and your lunch companions are a bunch of beauts. It’s a good discussion you’re having. Here’s three paragraphs (and a short finale) from beside a sweetwater lake in the boreal, just north of 50 on Treaty 1 and 3 lands:

    ONE. I recall a long email convo with a writer from Syria. We were back and forth about a lit contest or something and she mentioned, almost as an aside, that she had lived her whole life (29 years as I recall) “in a war zone.” I felt humbled and kind of precious to tell her that I was (then) 63 and had never lived — or had even been IN — a war zone. I added that Canada certainly had, since 1955, sent soldiers to die and be wounded in foreign wars, but never on Canadian soil. Without telling my friend from Syria this, I reminded myself how lucky I was and how remarkable this fact was in so many ways.

    TWO. A friend in Winnipeg, a Black immigrant with a background that includes the Caribbean and the UK and maybe other places I don’t know about, wrote today on this topic. She was not enthusiastic about Canada Day. She’s an immigrant who came here with her mom and sisters at age 11 and had grown up to experience a Canada that did not live up to its promises or its reputation as a place of equality and a patchwork quilt of diversity (my words). She also mentioned the Residential Schools situation plus I know her to be passionate and well-informed on the Black Lives Matter issue as it pertains to Canada and her personal experience; she now has young sons and has reasonable fears about policing and racism in our country and our province. I read her posting and recalled your wise advice, Meanderer, from a few days ago when you said that what certain of us should do in some circumstances is to “listen and learn.”

    THREE. Taking these two Canada Day experiences and mingling them, it seems to me that Canada is both. Both a place that many, many people on Earth would move to without a second’s hesitation, even knowing about our failings. It is also a place that does fail in many serious and unforgivable ways, especially concerning social conscience and equality and while we have not technically had a war on our soil, some among us would say we HAVE, only that it was selective and some of our citizens were in more jeopardy than others. I believe both of these statements can be true without contradiction. Canada is a safe haven compared to many other countries; Canada offers less safety for some and more for others and this inequity falls along racial lines.

    My conclusion? I wish I had one. The best I can do is to feel some comfort and some confidence that my grandchildren will be better off than their diverse antecedents were: Mennonites and Ukrainians from Russia, Irish citizens who historically suffered extreme violence and economic hardship, Francophones who helped to found the country of Canada, and the Metis Nation that emerged soon after Europeans came to the boreal forest and the prairies. I trust that despite our failings as a country, there are many Canadians committed to making our country better.

    The great Manitoba writer Armin Wiebe spoke out on this issue a few years back during a meeting of Mennonite writers at the U of W. He expressed the belief that the more the diverse people of Canada mixed, the less we would encounter inequality and discrimination. I believe this is true and just hope that my grandkids can experience this more fully in their lifetimes and can look back and say that we — those of us “in charge” now — did our share to make these changes possible and to make Canada better.

    1. Well spoken Mitch. I hope you are right about progress. In some respects we have go better. Much better even. Yet, we have a long way to go.

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