There was a time, not so long ago, when Canada Day was among the simplest, black and white (make that red and white) holiday on the calendar.
July 1 didn’t have the complications of political or religious baggage associated with other holidays such as Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving-it was simply Canadians celebrating the birth of their nation. Displaying the red and white maple leaf flag was a plain patriotic gesture, devoid of controversy.
The last year or so however have made things a lot murkier, for two very different reasons.
In May of 2021 it was the discovery of 215 bodies found at a residential school in Kamloops that sparked difficult conversations of something most of us knew at least a little about, but something we didn’t know nearly enough about either. This was either by choice or as a result of those in the know attempting to sweep that dark chapter of our history under the rug. Unsurprisingly, yet equally disturbing, the number didn’t stop at 215 as that particular school in BC was far for an isolated event in our history and the number of unmarked graves found at known residential schools across this country is now estimated to be over 1,900. Given these discoveries it’s understandable why some were more than a little uncomfortable celebrating Canada last July.
On the opposite side of the coin is a group who have adopted the Canadian flag as symbol of government resistance, usually paired with a not-so-subtle ‘F Trudeau’ flag. As their American counterparts snicker while they speak in ‘code’ with their ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ chants to voice their displeasure towards their duly elected leader, up north they’ve taken a much more direct approach.
Rather than to delve in to the matter and to pick a side, let’s just take a step back and admire the fact both are free to exist within our country. For those who don’t feel it’s right to celebrate given the atrocities carried out by some of the country’s founders, that’s perfectly all right. And for those who chose to use the flag as a way to speak out against the government, they too are free to do so, provided it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. One thing to note however, the very fact some Canadians continue to very publicly claim time and time again they’re living under a dictatorship is pretty solid proof they are not. It’s very unlikely someone in North Korea would be driving around with the Korean equivalent of ‘F Kim Jong-un’ proudly flapping from his or her truck bed. At least if they did, they wouldn’t do it for very long.
And so with that in mind, tomorrow is a perfect time to remember while Canada isn’t without its flaws, there’s literally millions of people around the world who wish the could be lucky enough to wake up here every day. However people choose to mark the occasion tomorrow we’ll simply wish that they do so safely, responsibly and respectfully. The fact we can do so together for the first time in two years is something we shouldn’t take for granted, either.