This is my favourite time of year, a time when I am usually (26 out of 27 years) in that national capital region for the greatest celebration this city ever sees.

I am Canadian, a fact that makes me very proud (most of the time), and there is nothing I love more than seeing 30,000 other proud Canadians gather together in my city to celebrate the mere notion that we get the chance to live in this great country.

I love showing off the maple leaves tattooed on my left shoulder blade – I took great joy in the fact that my wedding dress did not cover them – especially on July 1. I love having others know that I am Canadian. It is a huge part of my identity.

This year, more than most, I find myself analyzing my Canadianess. I find that I am thinking more about what needs to change here that what is great. I hope that others are doing the same. It seems that we are failing at many things, at least according to some. There are things we’re clearly getting wrong, things we’re not acting on, and things we’re not acting on quickly enough.

Things I want to see Canada improve:

  • Our treatment of Aboriginal peoples.  I have lived in several areas near reserves and seen vastly different treatment of these people. Many Canadians seem to hold grudges against the so-called preferential treatment of our First Nations (yeah, they get tax-exemptions, they also had their identity stripped from them over hundreds of years of mistreatment). I have witnessed stereotyping and I have witnessed the stereotypes. When it all comes down to it, what options have we really given them?
  • Climate change/Global warming. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m sick of people thinking they can’t do anything when it’s been proven that little changes can change a lot. Too many people think their convenience is more important that the future of the planet.
  • International Human Rights. This is something that I wish Canada was a world leader on. We have so many great people here who speak out about the problems faced by the world’s least fortunate – Romeo Dallaire and Stephen Lewis to name just two. When I was in university I could see the passion that Canada’s young people show for these issues, but our political leaders are missing out. Sure, they condemn China’s treatment of Tibetans and place sanctions on Zimbabwe, but what does that really accomplish? – This being said, we also have a lot of things to deal with on our own soil and I don’t deny that. Canada has too much poverty and the split between rich and poor is too large.

There’s more, I’m sure there’s a lot more, but in my celebratory mood I can focus on those three or four things and assume that there are Canadians out there who see those problems and are even taking steps to fix them, taking steps to help people and support change.

The great thing about being Canadian, and the thing that makes me feel so lucky, is that we have the opportunity to create change here. All the problems we face are fixable and we live in a country that is lucky enough to be a potential part of the solution. There are so many things we don’t have to worry about that we can think about wider issues. And that is why I celebrate every year, every day, that I was born here.

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