On Canada Day I stand as a proud first generation Canadian*—but not that proud. As Canadians we collectively and individually need to examine our thoughts, behaviours and actions more closely, specifically the national conceit of living in “Canada the Good.”
I’m not questioning our international reputation as a civilized democracy. Canada is good. It’s very good. But it could be much better if we put an end to xenophobia and the ugly forms of racism and social injustice it foments.
July 1st is a day to remind ourselves that we have opportunities to practice inclusion, not just in theory, not just through legislation but within our daily lives. Inclusion has always been a personal choice.
Frankly, it’s not just new immigrant children and their families who confront xenophobia. Every day there are thousands of citizens here on Canadian soil who are made to feel “other” by fellow Canadians, by us or people like us and our children. This despite the fact that Canada is a country of global migrants living on ceded and unceded traditional territories.
We can all do better. We can be better Canadians and better global citizens. And it begins with being better people. I was reminded of this recently. If you haven’t seen the documentary Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, please rush to your local theatre. It’s a poignant reminder about being human that might bring a tear to your eye.
Over 50 years ago Fred Rogers understood what it meant to sow the seeds of human dignity, respect and love. Recognizing television’s growing influence, he directed his ministry towards children’s programming. Whether we are children or adults, the wisdom he shared is foundational to what it means to be human.
Happy Canada Day.
* Both my parents immigrated to Canada from Hungary as children. It was hard to get here in 1929 and it was hard to get here in 1939. It’s still hard to get here in 2018. It takes untold courage to start life in a new country but the suffering should end here, not continue. And if your ancestors were born here, however late, the suffering must stop.
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