What Being Canadian Means to Me – Celebrating 150

Last weekend, millions of Canadians from all different backgrounds, cultures, and faiths came together to celebrate our nation’s 150th birthday. Celebrations took place across the country with concerts, barbeques, and fireworks to commemorate the day and all that it represented. On Sunday in our country’s capital, a truly inspiring event took place to highlight all of the diversity, multiculturalism, and rich history that comes with our beautiful country. We Day Canada took place on Parliament Hill and included many inspirational and successful Canadians who shared messages of hope, love, and reconciliation. Speakers and performers included Justin Trudeau, Gord Downie, Alessia Cara, Lilly Singh, and many more.

The Ottawa Children's Choir performs Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie's song Secret Path at We Day on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Sunday, July 2, 2017. Downie's project

Throughout my life, I have always felt extremely blessed to have been brought up in a country that honours the beliefs and ideas that I hold so close to my heart. I am able to live my life freely without fear for my safety or wellbeing. As a young Canadian woman, for the most part, I am treated the same as my male counterparts. I am privileged to receive an education equal in quality to my male peers, without any fear of punishment. I have the freedom to express my opinions and ideas with the world through any outlet I wish, including this blog. I am eternally grateful for everything that my Canadian life has afforded me, and this Canada Day I truly appreciated and recognized that.

Coming from a mixed Indian background, I often wonder what my life would have been like had I been born in India. My grandfather travelled to Canada to attend the University of Toronto as a young adult. In the following years, my grandmother followed him to the very cold and snowy land they now call home. Through hope, determination, and big hearts, they were able to create a better life for themselves and my entire family. My grandmother quickly became a successful financial planner and my grandfather pursued a career in engineering. My grandparents are true examples of the Canadian dream, and the importance of working hard and helping others. However, they would not have been able to integrate into our country with such ease without Canada’s commitment to diversity and multiculturalism. Canadians continue to accept and love one another, regardless of gender, religion, sexuality, or race. We must continue to honour these traditions to ensure that everyone feels welcome and included in our wonderful country.

While we often celebrate our achievements for equality, the sad truth is that our path contains many cases of injustice. Many minority groups included Japanese people, Indian people, and the LGBTQ+ community have faced unceasing barriers to achieving success. Our Indigenous peoples have suffered countless atrocities that are often ignored and pushed aside by the Canadian public. Throughout the twentieth century, thousands of children were forcibly taken from their homes and placed in residential schools that were designed to “kill the Indian in the child.” The negative effects of residential schools are still being felt today due to the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that 150 000 innocent Indigenous children were forced to endure. During the Sixties Scoop, children were again “scooped” from their homes and placed in non-Indigenous families where they experienced a severe loss of cultural heritage. 

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Reconciliation for our Indigenous peoples is not only a want, but a need. Ignoring our past and the cruelty these groups have faced has gone on far too long. It is a time that we recognize our past, and make active steps towards ensuring justice and acceptance for all Canadians. Although it is important to celebrate our efforts and successes, it is equally vital that we look to the future to ensure that ALL of our nation’s groups are accepted and included in the decisions that affect them. It is each of our responsibilities to love one another and use what we have been given to help those in need, because that is what being Canadian is all about.

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Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!


1 thought on “What Being Canadian Means to Me – Celebrating 150

  1. Great post! I’m so glad you included the plight of indigenous peoples. I saw first hand the effects of residential schools & other atrocities when I did my residency and spent 5 weeks in Moose Factory & Attawapiskat. The lack of healthy affordable food & appropriate resources was stunning & continues to this day.

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