Today is a very special day for Canadians around the world. It's Canada Day (Dominion Day for the traditionalists in the crowd) a day when we celebrate and recognize our beautiful land, our colourful history, our vibrant cultural crazy quilt of immigrants and native peoples.
Our maple leaf flag flies proudly from every balcony, car window, and flagpole this week like it rarely does any other time of year. Bright red maple leaves will be tattooed, painted, sprayed, sewn, and carved in every imaginable material from cakes to sidewalks to cheeks (and other body parts!).
On Parliament Hill in Ottawa and all across the country, families and friends will gather in backyards and outdoor parks to listen to music, watch parades, and - of course - oooh and aaah over tonight's fireworks.
Chris and I were both proud Canadians - we sang along to the national anthem; we loved all those hackneyed Canadian symbols like mounties on horseback, rugged mountain vistas, maple syrup, and the McKenzie brothers. We were proud of what we knew Canada could be at its best: its public healthcare system, its vast and beautiful environment, its openness to diversity, its peaceful social democracy.
Despite many challenges and difficulties, the fragile promise held in shining moments throughout our shared memory reveals a lot about who we can be: Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope, Expo '67 in our Centennial Year, the federal government's recent apology to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. There are many, many moments - both small and large - that speak to who we are as a people and what kind of land and country we can to leave to our children. It's up to us to become the change we want to see.
So go out and celebrate Canada Day every day: eat delicious Indian food, visit a mosque, care for a Japanese bonsai, learn to speak Spanish, play the bagpipes, give up your seat for an elderly war vet, knit an Icelandic sweater, teach English to a new immigrant, see a blind woman, offer a hand up to a teen down on their luck, donate blood, learn to canoe, teach your children to say "excuse me" and "thank you", join an African drumming circle, shovel your neighbour's walk, speak up against prejudice and intolerance, and oooh and aaah over the fireworks in your life - whenever and wherever they occur.