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Mayor’s Column – July 4, 2018

July 4, 2018

 

Oh Canada! Seven reasons why we should be grateful, happy, content, even delighted to live in Canada and be proud Canadians.

One. Canada is not El Salvador. Don’t get me wrong. There are several things I like very much about El Salvador not the least of which is the sun that stimulates the growth and maturation in the bananas. I happen to like bananas and usually eat half of one every day. Highly nutritious and easy to eat if one removes the wrapping first – unlike the simian practice of holding the fruit in two paws while tearing at the skin with powerful teeth.

We know that life can be hard and dangerous in your home towns but we scarcely can imagine the forces that drive you from that good land to seek shelter with us. We welcome you to our part of the north but Canada is not El Salvador.

Two. Canada is not Great Britain. Once again, don’t misunderstand. Great Britain stood up against the Nazi bombardment during the Battle of Britain while the rest of the world watched all the while anticipating a fiery, dusty demise. Great Britain showed us real metal. We admire and applaud. But now Britain is staid and old; still we have time to learn from her and, where possible, correct our mistakes of ignorance and bigotry. We cherish our shared history and our present relationship but Canada is not Great Britain.

Three. Canada is not Europe. Well, don’t be too sure or too smug. There’s a l ot of continental Europe in the mix we call us. In my own family I can recall French, Hessian, English, Celt, Saxon, Finnish, and you name it, it’s probably in my history all mixed up and comingled before reaching these shores. How else could our Century 21 English be so rich and expressive: three or four words for every meaning and not rarely three or four meanings for every word. Did I mention different pronunciations for the same spelling?

And you thought you weren’t rich – with a language like that?

And you live in a house and eat your food from a plate with spoon, fork, and knife – unless you go down to your local Nickel and Dime and suck it through a plastic tube?

Let’s reason together, folks. If you regularly do those simple, thoughtless acts, you’re not poor. Not by a long shot!

Europeans are still a majority between these oceans but Canada is not Europe.

Four. Canada is not India with its multitude of languages, colours, aromas, and teeming cities. Yet thousands of that venerable culture have transplanted themselves to Canada’s soil, her streets, her byways, her industries, her farms, her factories, her universities, and her professions to enrich the land of their adoption. We welcome you from Madras, Punjab, Calcutta, but Canada is not India.

Five. Canada is not First Nations. Though they were here before the Europeans scrambled ashore, we have to acknowledge that we are all here together and it is in the best interest of all of us to acknowledge the mistakes of the past (and maybe the present), make restitution if and where possible, and move ahead. All we have is the future. No, I am wrong, again. We have only the moment and the Golden Rule applies in the moment: “Whatever you would like to have done to you, you do that quickly to your neighbour” – or words to that effect. Not just words. Actions are more believable. No, Canada is not First Nations.

Six. Canada is not China. China, whose culture can be traced to the Tower of Babel, has sent of her best, brightest, and most tenacious to enrich these shores. They have built our railways, our cities, our mines. Yes, they have even mined our miners. They have built Canada but Canada is not China.

Seven. Canada is not the United States. Ever since that pivotal day in Charlotte Town, PEI, the province of green, green, green, in 1867, Canada and the United States have traded DNA, goods, services, insults, good cheer, encouragement, and even threats. We have been neighbours (neighbors) sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Nevertheless, the mouse and the elephant have managed to weather the storms. We trust the storms will continue to pass over us though Manifest Destiny can never be far from our minds.

Much of Canada’s brain power has slipped south to enrich that good country; much of its muscle and mind has turned north to enrich our culture, but Canada is not the United States.

We are what we are. Thank our Creator for that.

We are Canada; this is our native land. Here for uncountable generations, newly arrived by first class, or crossing the border in the night, a refugee from terror or despair, you are in Canada. Canada, your home and native land.

English and French, our official languages, are always ready and able to slip in a word or a few of Cree or Inuit, or Czech, or Punjabi, or whatever accent and vocabulary you bring. We, all of us Canadians, will be further enriched.

Oh, Canada!

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor