Szpin on CANADA DAY

Canada, more than a hundred and fifty years of history, much of which we can very proud: combat in two World Wars, aiding countries in need repeatedly, financial help to distant countries, support whenever and wherever called upon throughout the world. We can be proud of our contributions to people needing help throughout the whole world in many areas, many endeavors. But some areas, not so much.

We have our heroes, as well our villains. Fill in each as you see fit.

Every family has a black sheep, family members who we readily reject for their objectionable ways. Even ‘normal’ family members potentially have sinful sides, the one who smoked pot when it was illegal, the other criminally addicted, the one who drinks too much, and others. The family that readily rejects the ‘sinful family members’ may seem cold-hearted. They are the ones who likely would reject our historical figures such as Egerton Ryerson, John A. Macdonald for their sinful sides. Ryerson is credited with establishing Ontario’s public educational system which included design and implementation of the Indian Residential School System. Macdonald united Canada but accepted the Indigenous treaties as proposed at that time. Macdonald succeeded in creating a new nation despite being frequently so drunk he could not stand without assistance. Some people may contend that the sinful sides should be disregarded or minimized in context of their times. Others disagree tearing down the monuments of honor and recognition. Take the position you like in dealing with these figures. But let he without sin, cast the first stone.

I am celebrating Canada Day fully and with the same national fervor that I have before. I am flying the Canadian flag in front of my house with pride. I owe Canada a debt a lot for many things: almost seventy-five years of safe, secure living, multiple opportunities to earn a living, allowing me to live wherever I wanted, in the city of my choice, in a home I was able to buy, and in the family life that I love.

I recognize and acknowledge there have been people in the history of Canada who have been destructive and malevolent. Wiping them from our history books doesn’t change our history. Keeping them in the books does not mean I honour them or revere them. History with pages torn out is censorship. Such a book doesn’t repair the wrongs that were done. Nor does retaining those figures in the books elevate those people to positions of honour. They have committed wrongs and keeping them in the books is not praising them in any way. Their stories should be examined in the context of their times but we need to appreciate that times change and attitudes change along with them.

I am proud of Canada. This country’s good far outweighs its bad. I celebrate the good; hang my head in shame for the bad. It bothered me seeing the burning of the flag done south of the border over the years in protest over this issue or that. Flying the Canada Day at half mast, not flying it at all, borders on the same negative emotions.

I am celebrating Canada Day. My Canadian flag is raised, with pride. Canada is the greatest country in the world and I am proud to be a Canadian. We have regret and contrition for the sins we have committed. We have sinned but we will try harder to sin no more.

Still, to paraphrase a notable world leader, “Vive le Canada libre!”

Richard

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