The world was a very different place at the end of June in 1867. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had just formed, Alaska was purchased by the United States and became the 49th state, Jesse James, the infamous bank robber, had just struck again in Richmond, Missouri and the illustrious Opera “Romeo et Juliette” had recently been produced in Paris. But at noon on July 1, 1867 another big event took place when the Dominion of Canada was officially formed.
Now we find ourselves 150 years from the forming of the country that is represented by the bright red maple leaf emblazoned in a white square upon a field of red. Much has changed since that inaugural date but one question still stands out as unanswered. And that question is: What is the Canadian identity?
This question has been raised throughout Canada’s 150 years of existence. Is it the sport of hockey or the great white north or is it the friendliness. Maybe it’s the fact that we are always saying sorry.
No, none of those ideas embody who Canadians are.
If you wander from the west to the east in Canada you will first hit Whitehorse and the wilderness that thrives in the territories. Going a little south you’ll get to experience the brilliance of the Rocky Mountains and beauty of coastline cities like Vancouver.
You will then get to the gritty part of Canada in that of Alberta’s Calgary and Edmonton and the North West Territories’ Yellowknife. The prairies would be your next stop in the south before heading north again for stops in the icy tundra of Nunavut.
Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, would be the next stop before Ottawa. All the signs turn French for a while as you go through Quebec and then you get to the east coast and the scenic cities of the seaside between St. John and St. Johns.
With all these different people spread across such a vast country is there anything that could really bring us all together other than what our passports say? Maybe it is that difference that brings us together. That genuine acceptance of the individuality that we all have to offer and belief that that difference is what makes us Canadian.
Canada is the combination of almost 36 million unique people who come together because of that uniqueness not despite of it.
It is the fact that Canada is a country where over 200 languages are spoken openly throughout, it is a place that accepts 200,000 new immigrants every year, and more recently 50,000 refugees all of which contribute to the amazing cultural landscape. It is also a country which has time and time again stepped onto the world stage and announced that we accept everyone for who they are no matter where they come from.
We encourage everyone to bring their unique culture and outlook and share it with us. We do not boil their culture away until it matches our own views. We welcome everyone’s individuality and embrace their uniqueness.
Choosing one thing which truly reflects the modern conception of the Canadian identity is not easy because of the diversities that exist in this amazing place we call home. Where we used to be a country of English, French and Indigenous we are now a mosaic of all cultures and languages. And it is this mosaic that makes us different. It allows us to empathize with people across the world and love them as if they were our neighbours and it is that love and acceptance for others that makes us Canadian.
What makes a Canadian a Canadian is the fact that we are accepting. It let us build the mosaic that we are today and it drives everything we do and will do in the future.
From all of us at Able Translations, have a wonderful and safe Canada Day.
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