Canada Day – hands down, my favourite day of the year. It seems that this year, more than ever, we need to celebrate.
We've had a rough year since last Canada Day. We're seen the Covid pandemic continue to wreak havoc on life as we know it, hindering travel and enjoyment, slowing the supply chain, and causing dissension over vaccine mandates and restrictions, culminating in a month long series of protests and blockades. We've seen natural disasters (think of the small British Columbia town of Lytton being decimated by forest fires, leaving people and animals displaced and causing endless trauma, and the Coquihalla Highway being ripped apart by floods, further cutting off the supply chain and hampering mobility). We've seen more heartbreak with the ongoing discovery of unmarked Indigenous children's graves at former residential school sites. And, to top it all off, we've seen Russia choose to engage in war with Ukraine, which persists today, resulting in worldwide shortages, price increases, and tension. All of these are issues involving emotion, decisions, and finances that contribute to dissension and even political in-fighting. It's a hodgepodge that any political party would have difficulty managing.
It might be enough to rock our faith in this great country.
So, we need to keep our perspective more than ever. We have so much to celebrate. And to recognize what we have, it is sometimes helpful to see what non-Canadians think of us.
With 195 countries in the world (according to worldometers.info), it is difficult to determine which is the “best” due to the fact that ‘best’ is a purely subjective designation, and different organizations use different criteria to make their adjudications; but it is safe to say that Canada continually finishes high on the list. World Population Review gathers research and publishes yearly statistics about the state of the world. They put Canada in 16th place as the best country in 2022, basing their judgement on factors such as equality, literacy, life expectancy, and financial stability. They list Canada as the 7th most democratic (‘democratic’ meaning the citizens have power to choose the laws), the 6th safest, and the 8th most liberal (‘liberal’ referring to “a frame of mind that permeates nearly every aspect of a country’s culture”). Sharon Clarkson of wlliam-russell.com, 'The 5 Best Countries To Live In And Work Abroad In The World In 2022' rates Canada as number 2 in countries for foreign nationals to live and work, citing salary, healthcare, education, safety, progressive thinking, and low pollution as factors. Where Can I Live (wherecani.live) chooses Canada as the 4th most desirable country to live in, all factors combined. And we can’t forget the simple beauty – Sarah Dimarco of veranda.com, 'The World's 14 Most Beautiful Countries', lists Canada as the 13th most beautiful country while World Population Review lists it in the top 14. So, those are a few facts to ponder. Out of 195 countries, we are still rated near the top of the list.
Joseph Brean wrote an insightful article, worth reading, in the National Post (nationalpost.com), 'Peace, order and get on with it: Canadians proud, hopeful, and agreeable, poll shows', in which he appears to caution us not to become too disenchanted with our country as "Canadians seem a lot more confident, empathetic, proud, and trusting of their own democracy and national identity than the loudest cultural voices often suggest". In short, Canadians are closer together than apart in fundamental beliefs, values, and dreams for this country. He goes on to state that "the view of entrenched irreconcilable positions is a misleading caricature of how Canadians actually think" and we are "not being torn apart by deranged populism". He notes that the pollster found that Canada has the ability to handle setbacks (such as protests and blockades which were seen as merely a blemish on "the peaceful politics of a peaceful country"). The kicker? The poll was conducted and analyzed by a British firm, "a view from the outside".
Yes, other people recognize that we have lots to celebrate. This does not mean that we forget or minimize the challenges of the past year. It means that we need to acknowledge the struggles, identify our strengths, and work harder towards an even-better Canada.
Covid, the war in Ukraine, and even Mother Nature have taught us that we have to be prepared for the unexpected, whether it is a medical crisis, a threat to world safety, or a natural disaster. (Maybe one ‘take away’ is that Canada needs to become more independent rather than be dependent on other countries, some which can only be described as less than democratic - such as producing our own medicine/vaccines, building facilities to produce essential items, enhancing what we already have such as our vast natural resources, developing leading edge solutions for food/energy/climate issues, and putting money into our country’s security.)
We definitely can’t forget, either, some of the messages that were sent through blockades and protests, whether we agree with their style or not. We need to continue to evaluate where we stand on issues of income, equality, and input and strive for that difficult balance so that all citizens of Canada have a say and have the opportunity for a good life. And we need to continue to reflect on our history and make changes to ensure that 'bad' history of any type is not repeated.
So, this Canada Day, let’s focus on what we have and let’s recognize that our strengths such as democracy, education, health, safety, and stability are exactly what we need, and will use, to address the bundle of problems in the last year to make us even better. Don't panic. We are strong and capable. We are like a bridge - we already have a solid base but need constant maintenance and upgrades to remain strong. Remember, other countries see us as quite able.
Keep the faith in this great country. Happy Canada Day.