150 Years – what are we celebrating?

I may get some hate from this, but hey, it wouldn’t be the first time I got heat for something I’ve written online.

So Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial on Saturday (in upfront honesty, a friend tipped me off to that word).  150 years ago, the Queen gave her royal assent to the British North America Act, which united the province of Canada (which became Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia into one union.  This law came into act on July 1, 1867.  A century and a half later, we have been blanketed with advertisers telling us that to we should give company X our money as a form of the grand celebration.  I’m sure the fathers of confederation certainly expected that this is what our celebrations would turn into– a reason to buy things.

Maybe this makes me a bad Canadian, but I cannot buy into these celebrations (pun intended).  Will I go see the fireworks on Saturday evening?  Sure.  It’s a 150 year celebration, and I expect it to be quite the explosive affair (again.. intended).  I will even partake in a beer beverage or two during the day, but Canada Day is just a convenient excuse for me to crack a cold one open.  What is escaping me more and more as I age is the notion of patriotism and nationalism.  It’s funny to say that, as I’ve just put on a top 150 Canadian songs playlist, but I’ll chalk that up to nostalgia.
One of the more difficult things for me to grasp now is taking pride in the accomplishments of other Canadians.  Whether it’s an actor, musician, comedian, doctor, athlete, etc., I fail to recognize what sharing being born within the same arbitrary borders has to do with someone else’s success and why I should be proud of it.
There is also the thought of so-called shared Canadian values.  What are these values?  I can promise you that for every value you pinpoint, I can find someone in my social media streams that run contrary to that value (even if only from my perspective).  Part of the Canadian identity is that we are not American.  By country borders, I cannot disagree with that, however I would also bet that I could find at least one American that has 95% value similarities to match with one of Canada’s 36 million people.
We are also far from being saints as a nation.  We upper classes still repress the lesser classes.  By celebrating 150 years of Confederation we are also celebrating colonialism and the failure of reparations for our forefathers misdeeds.

I want to acknowledge that I am thankful and fortunate that by genetic lottery, I am a Canadian.  People have fought for many things that we now take for granted (like celebrating 150 years by participating in a neo-liberal economic structure).  But why do we fight for our country?  Shouldn’t we be doing it because it’s the right thing to do?  Our acts of heroism, courage, kindness, or benevolence should have nothing to do with the country in which we were born or live in, but be done out of simple morality.  I recognize that not all countries are as fortunate as we are here, and perhaps it is our good fortune that we are not living in a North Korea, Syria, Sudan, or Somalia.  And perhaps that is what we should be celebrating.  The problem here is that we are celebrating our good fortune that has come from basically piggy backing off of the hard work and dedication of others, meanwhile the vast majority of us have done very little to move the needle forward.  Hell, in the last 6 elections, we averaged on a 62.6% voter turnout rate.  Voting, in my mind, is the easiest form of participation and 13.5 million of us can’t even do that (I don’t include Facebook posts as participation as it is a form of bitching, not acting.. like and share if you agree).

I think my biggest issue is that we still find ourselves thinking in terms of nationalities, genders, sexualities, and ethnicities.  We have yet to truly understand that we are all Earthlings and should be celebrating the culmination of all our lives together.  I still long for the day where we recognize and respect differences, but these differences have no impact on how we treat and think about each other.  Someone’s gay friend becomes just their friend.  Like Jim Jeffries reminds us, “we can do better.”

So, yeah, Happy Canada Day.  And stuff.

“Imagine there’s no countries…”
-John Lennon



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