By Jenn Watt
The week leading up to Canada Day is always one filled with anticipation, celebration and often relief. It’s the week when students at all of the county’s schools prepare to say goodbye to the staff and teachers with two months of sunny skies and hot temperatures ahead of them.
It’s the week when some of those students will be preparing to say a final farewell to their schools as they graduate onto new schools, new jobs, and new adventures.
And this year, the week will be punctuated with a celebration of Canada.
For many, Canada Day is imbued with meaning – and for many others it’s simply a much-needed day off work to spend with family.
What it should be is our annual occasion to be aspirational about the place we live.
We can and should take time to think about the things that make this country great and need our protection. We can take measures to safeguard our environment from pollution. We can demand that Canada is a global leader in slowing the pace of climate change. We can join efforts to ensure our lakes and forests are healthy and strong.
We can remind ourselves that everywhere we travel from coast to coast to coast has a past that pre-dates us. We can honour the Indigenous peoples who have been here for thousands of years. For those of us not part of an Indigenous culture, we can learn from them and raise our voices in concert with theirs asking for fair treatment, safety and respect.
We can treasure our democratic institutions by paying attention to what our politicians have to say and letting them know what we think. This year is the federal election – this is our chance as citizens to give our government a report card. Have we been well represented? Has our government been living up to our expectations? This year we go to the ballot boxes to let them know.
We can look out for those who need assistance and find ways to provide more for those who are struggling. We can recognize our fellow Canadians – and human beings around the world – as being worthy of the same basic rights as we have and support work to make that happen, whether through funding for education, proper sanitation and health care, accessibility, or child care.
Just as we use New Year’s Day to make resolutions for the year to come, we can see Canada Day as an opportunity to reflect on what we have, what we mean to one another, and how we as individuals can make things better.