I am not a nationalist.
I believe nationalism can be a dangerous thing—often exploited to divide, rather than unite us.
I am a citizen of the earth. We are all citizens of the earth. We may live in one specific place but that doesn’t mean that place belongs to us alone, or we to it.
This being said, on this 1st of July—Canada’s 149th birthday—I could not feel more proud to be Canadian.
Through these tempestuous times, riddled with political and social unrest, I turn to you, Canada. I turn to you and I find solace in the progress that you are making and in the undoubtedly bright future that lies ahead of you. I turn to you, this once identity-confused land, now a role model, a shining beacon of hope in a world progressively choosing to immerse itself in darkness.
I find reassurance in watching as this young nation takes monumental strides in the right direction, despite many fellow conglomerates choosing to take steps backwards. I watch us forging our identity in a progressive and forward-thinking way—entirely different from traditional forms of nationalism.
We are becoming a nation that discourages segregation and supremacy as a means of deriving worth and instead promotes inclusivity and togetherness—one that breaks down barriers to separation. We are realising that our value and our strength lies in our unity and acceptance of one another.
I am not proud of my country because of our sporting achievements, discoveries, inventions or how rich or famous our celebrities are. I do not feel a sense of economic superiority. I do not see my country as better than others because of its beauty or resources, for these can be found in every other country in the world, in different ways.
This sense of pride has nothing to do with power, money or image. It is not an allegiance to a specific cultural group or set of geographic coordinates. This feeling comes from the promise of a nation continuously trying to better itself, from a restored faith in the upward shift in human consciousness.
On this day, I am proud to be Canadian for I am proud to come from…
A nation that not only tolerates diversity, but celebrates it.
A nation that does not try to assimilate its newcomers, but instead, respects and honours the heritage of each, creating a beautifully unique cultural mosaic.
A nation that teaches its young about acceptance and unity from a young age.
A nation that does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, regardless of gender, ethnicity, place of origin, sexual orientation, or any other factors.
A nation where everyone is free to be themselves and is respected in all of his or her beautiful eccentricities.
A nation now known for its liberalism, inclusivity and open-mindedness.
A nation where all citizens are welcome far and wide and greeted with a smile, in a courteous demeanour.
A nation recognized around the world for being “friendly and polite”.
A nation where the importance of planet-bettering initiatives such as recycling, wildlife preservation and environmental protection are taught in schools and enforced to a point where they have become second-nature.
A nation that is striving to promote peacekeeping and does not seek to forcefully assert its dominance over others.
A nation that I have seen flourish of late, and which has managed to restore my faith and fill my heart with hope for the future.
A nation that is still far from perfect, one with much yet to learn and many changes to implement but nonetheless, one that is showing so much promise at such a young age.
A nation which, under its new leadership, is on a wonderfully inspiring path.
The new Canada that I see emerging is built around peace, togetherness, equality, finding strength in inclusivity and unification…and I could not ask for anything more.
Of course, I realize that there are still many obstacles to overcome, still many issues within the country—we still have much work to do. But I believe that now, more than ever, Canada is standing for what is right and, consequently, is on the fast track to great things.
On this day, I am filled with gratitude for this land that raised me.
Happy Birthday, Canada, you absolute beaut! Keep making us proud.
Bonus via Imgur:
Author: Andrée Pontbriand
Editors: Khara-Jade Warren; Katarina Tavčar