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Make this Canada Day the start to a better Canada

This country has a lot to talk about and this July 1st is a good time to reflect upon what Canada is to all its people.

Never before, I would hazard, has Canada Day “celebrations” involved so much introspection as to the meaning of our country, culture, history, our citizenship and abundance of wealth.

This year, with the revelations of unmarked burials at a number of former Indian Residential School sites, we are having a much different conversation – within ourselves and with each other.

Some have called for a cancellation of celebrations, or Canada Day straight out. Here’s what I am going to do:

I’ll remember how good Canada has been to me, and my family, and colleagues. But I’m thinking of those for whom marking Canada Day has been a painful, or deeply conflicted exercise.

I’ll reflect upon the truth about our country’s history, the legacy of colonialist policies that in part built a country into what it is, at the cost of its first peoples.

Like so many, I have a lot to be thankful for, personally and as a citizen. Indeed, Canada has a reputation globally for being a great place to live, for being a peacekeeper when the world needs one, and for leading in some areas of human-rights and civil-liberties recognitions.

On a deeply personal level, I have always celebrated Canada as a country that offers safe harbour for numerous generations of families that either escaped threat in their homelands or sought economic prosperity in a new land.

The fact that all of that is as true today as it was yesterday makes it particularly painful to acknowledge this is not the reality of our Indigenous peoples.

We at MHCA have been taking measures to fulfil our association’s obligations to move meaningfully toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, to learn about and account for the legacy of past policies that continue to “barrier” Indigenous individuals to full participation in society and to benefit from our collective prosperity.

This Canada Day, I am reflecting upon that and the full meaning of my good fortune to be Canadian.

Let’s use this day to gather with family and friends and to think about how we can become better than we are, and have the conversations that acknowledge we owe a lot to Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

Let that truth, and reconciliation be the start.

This July 1st, be safe and well, and I ask that you pledge to help make that start.