It’s Canada Day on the prairies. Like so many Canadians, I have a flag in front of my home to show my appreciation for country. Later today I will go to the lake with my wife carrying food for a gathering of family and friends there. We are bringing along all sorts of “Canada” stuff such as hats, small flags, napkins, a large flag with its own pole, and other items.
This day marks one of three annual gatherings that have become a tradition for our family – Canada Day, family birthday celebration in August, and Christmas. Am I proud to be Canadian? Yes. In my opinion, it is a good place to live, to raise a family, and to retire. The only drawbacks that I know, are intense winter cold and mosquitoes. Oh, and of course, a growing sense of “us versus them” that is bubbling beneath the surface of our collective polite and friendly face to the rest of the world.
I don’t pretend for a moment that our pride in being a friendly, welcoming and tolerant society is the true picture of what it is to be Canadian. There is a growing ugly face. We don’t do well in relation to the First Nations peoples of Canada. With the swell of people of other cultures coming it to beef up our workforce as we age, we find ourselves struggling as a country to blend into the cultural mosaic that we celebrate on days like today. There is a growing sector that seeks to have us reclaim our country. White privilege is being challenged, not by the newest Canadians who are predominantly darker in skin tones, but by our own collective shadow that fears change.
As the western world begins to build walls around their collective identities, a reaction based on fear of others, nationalism shows it dark face, a face that has historically ended up very badly as we end up warring against those who don’t embrace the collective lies. The initial act of “patriotism” via “Brexit” in the United Kingdom has resulted in a drastic increase in hate crimes within the U.K. The presidential election in the U.S.A. is going to be fought over the same fundamental fears of others, of “strangers” for whom walls must be built to keep them out. The chants of Briton for the British, America for Americans are beginning to be taken up by other countries who feel they are under siege and want “their” country back. Canada isn’t any different. That same chant, Canada for Canadians is becoming stronger as Canadians react out of fear to the changes of a country that dares to remain inclusive and compassionate.