Thursday, 1 July 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada Day, and despite its many flaws I love my country. I was born outside a small-town and spent much of my childhood hanging out at the local arena - which was the focal point of our small community (aside from church, maybe). On hot summer nights my dad and I used to jump on our bikes and trek into the village to get ice cream sandwiches from the gas station shop. My friends and I used to spend afternoons running through the forest, climbing trees and crossing creeks on bridges that we made out of logs (yeah, I was kind of a tomboy). At night we would sit around our parent's firepits, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, doused in bug repellent, waiting for someone to light-up the sparklers.

When trouble struck people did not stand by saying "that's too bad, whatever are they are going to do?" They took action. When a young boy was paralyzed in a freak accident, the community rallied to raise money for his care. Twenty years later they are still holding an annual golf tournament for this man. When my mom was critically ill people would show up at our house to deliver 3 course home-made dinners. When a young mother was desperately praying for a bone-marrow donor, the local junior hockey team had a blood drive and donor awareness night in her honour. When a new bride died suddenly, people did not wait to be asked, they showed up at the funeral home with money to help cover the funeral expenses. When a young boy went missing it took only a few hours and phone calls for hundreds of men and women to take to the streets and fields, searching until he was found (alive). When a fire destroyed several family homes, people did not ask "what should we do?" They asked "where should we drop off our donations?"

Then I moved to the "big city", expecting that things would be much different. And they were, but they weren't. Men still opened the door for me. When my car wouldn't start one of the neighbours saw me struggling and came over to help. When I got engaged my students brought in gifts. When my students heard about Operation Christmas Child (and this was the public system) they told me they wanted our homeroom to put some boxes together. People were still friendly, genuinely friendly. One of the most poignant moments of my first year in the 'big-town' was an Iranian father who just showed up at a school dance on his way home from work one night, took me aside and said: "I do not have time to spend with my kids because I am working so much. You have made me realize that people in this country actually care about my kids - you care like parents care - we never had this in my country. I am so glad we came to Canada."

I think there is only one other country in the world where it would have been possible for me to grow-up having these experiences (and your day is coming up soon so today we focus on Canada). When you leave your country and find yourself in a culture that is completely foreign, you realize how much Canada is a part of you. Today I am thankful that I was born there, and I pray that Canadians realize how much they have to lose if our cultural identity is not protected (and yes, we do have one). I think of the men and women serving in Canadian Forces around the world, who literally "stand on guard" - and I pray for their safety.

God keep our land, glorious and free.

Happy Canada Day!!