What Does Being Canadian Mean?

I AM CANADIAN, what does that mean other than a clever beer campaign once launched by Molson? These words swirl in mind as I watch all the social media posts of red and white.

Much like this photo of my son’s playhouse on the deck my childhood was full of hot summers, lakes, and bonfires, fireflies, and pools. I skated on ice rinks both indoor and out, made snow angels and snowman and curved blizzards and whiteouts on four-lane highways and white-knuckled drives.

But this day is bittersweet to me. I have been blessed to call this country my home, space where terrorism and full-scale war have been remiss, whereas a woman I have been permitted to drive and vote, and as a citizen have been graced with the privilege of safe travel to many countries. As a Canadian, I cry when I hear a crowd sing our national anthem, I get goosebumps when I sing it because I can feel the immense energy that went into forging this country. To me, there is more than Tim Hortons coffee, pancakes and maple syrup and strong beer to be a part of this country! On this day I feel I owe it to pause in mindful awareness of what Canadian history occurred.

A Darker Canadian History

I am honoured this day and every day to call Canada my home! I am beyond grateful for those who lost their lives so that I speak English and not German, Japanese, or Russian. My heart is in deep gratitude that I have a border from my neighbours in the South that separates our cultures. I am forever indebted to this day to all who continue to serve in the name of peace. I feel the trauma of generations gone by, I sense those still recovering from loss in families, from current struggles and recent deployments and my heart aches for all you have witnessed. I struggle on this day to embrace joy or pride in our colours because our red and white came at the expense of four colours, red, yellow, white and black. I can not ignore on this day the genocide occurring in indigenous communities, the contaminated water systems, fracking, lack of clean food or the immense class divides creating an increase in homelessness and mental illness. I can not be proud of where we are at as a country, it hurts my heart to do.

When I pause to honour these dark feelings inside, these realities that at times feel too big to bear or threaten my ability to move forward, I honour the injustice and my true feelings. From the place of honour, I shift into gratitude. I am grateful for the sounds of neighbours stereos and laughter, of clinking glasses, and children splashing. I am grateful for the clean water I have to drink and swim in and the strawberries and yarrow that grow at my feet waiting to nourish me. I hope that as I pause in honour of all that is good and all that needs healing and mending I am teaching my son that we have work to do, that kindness comes from being grateful and fulfilled from within, and that change starts with us. I hope that I teach him through my actions that each day we heal and mend ourselves we turn up stronger, wiser, and more connected to our community and that together we can create a country to be not just honoured and grateful to live in, but proud of the Canadian history as well.

Happy Canada Day from my honoured heart to yours!



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