Canada Day on July 1, has traditionally been a celebration of patriotic pride, with flag waving, outdoor concerts, barbecues and a piece of cake in honour of our country’s birthday.
This year will be different. Numerous communities have chosen to cancel their Canada Day celebrations for this year, out of respect for Indigenous communities.
In June, the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops has resulted in an increased focus on the history of residential schools. Many in the country have been mourning the discovery and coming to terms with this disturbing element of Canada’s past.
As a result, holding the usual flag waving and joyful celebrations would seem somewhat jarring and incongruous. Canada Day festivities would be overshadowed by the more recent news events.
Instead of holding traditional Canada Day events, it would be good to use the day this year as a time for some quiet contemplation and reflection.
This year, set aside some time, alone or with family members, to think about the highest values we embrace as Canadians, along with considering how best to live up to those values.
The lack of Canada Day celebrations should not be seen as an attempt to erase unpleasant aspects of our past, nor should it be seen as a way of shaming our country. Instead, it is important to recognize our past for what it was and to learn from our history as we move forward.
Our country’s past has not been spotless. Some of our historical figures have been flawed individuals with attitudes and ideals that would no longer be considered acceptable. These shortcomings and mistakes must be acknowledged and addressed.
At the same time, there is much to appreciate about Canada. We have become a welcoming country, a place where efforts are made to embrace and value all. Such goals are noble, and when we fall short, it is a time to reflect and then find ways to do better in the future.
It is our hope that next year, Canada Day festivities can resume as a celebration of our best ideals.
— Black Press