Purely by the accident of birth I am blessed to call Canada “my home and native land!”
I use the term “blessed” enthusiastically and yet with a sense of humility. I know that there are many other countries in the world whose residents experience a high standard of living and benefit from basically the same rights and freedoms I enjoy. I know there are many other countries which, for any number of reasons, are not in that same situation. I am humbled because I know that some residents of Canada do not have the same advantages and positive life experiences that I have known and loved. Constraints such as poverty, hunger, racism, discrimination and prejudice based on many factors, chronic disease and pain, physical and mental disabilities, unequal access to education and social assistance tools, and many other conditions prevent many of my fellow Canadians from enjoying all the benefits that this land has to offer.
The emphasis of my remarks over the last few weeks have been driven by this banner:
Black Lives Matter
Indigenous Lives Matter
Lives of People of Colour Matter
To take these issues to heart will go a long way towards resolving some (certainly not all) of the other issues noted.
Despite these issues, there is so much to celebrate about our country on Canada Day. Our freedoms. Our democracy. (I know some may complain and nitpick on both of those things.) Our Indigenous, and French and English founding cultures (despite the conflicts that occasionally – regularly? – flair up). Our social diversity and generally celebrated multicultural ethic. Our “coast-to-coast-to-coast” geographic diversity: ocean coasts, old growth forests, mountains and glaciers, prairies, Canadian Shield, tundra, the arctic, boreal forests, great rivers and Great Lakes, farmland, small towns and villages, vibrant cities. Our strong government and social programs. Our equally strong private sector and wealth-producing businesses – large and small, corporate and “mom and pop.” Ten provinces and three territories across which all of us are free to live, to travel, to visit, to enjoy, and from which to experience life-enriching experiences and inspiration.
I have been fortunate to travel reasonably widely across the world. I have enjoyed all of the places I have visited – and a few where I have lived briefly. However, there is something about getting through that last Customs check and having the Border Services officer greet me with “Welcome home” (even though I may still be thousands of kilometers away from where I live) that brings a sense of pride in my country and those with whom I share it.
I hope that you have been able to mark Canada Day in some meaningful way. I hope you are able to give thanks to God for the blessings that you enjoy just because you live here.
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of guidance, understanding, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President
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