Homebodies - To me, this is Canada


Rita Friesen
The Neepawa Banner

As you read this, I will just be settling my wings after the long flight home from Paris. Canada Day, Canada 150, will have filled the front pages of newspapers and flooded the airwaves. And so it should. I am proud to be a Canadian. I work diligently to do justice to the title.

It is easy for me to recall Canada turning 100. It was the year I gave birth to my first born, and she now has to deal with being 50! There were celebrations and declarations. Fireworks, monuments, a new logo, centennial coins and medallions, and Expo 67. I recall the Confederation Train, a diesel locomotive and specially designed coach cars loaned by the Canadian National Railway, filled with exhibits showcasing Canadian history and culture. From Victoria, British Columbia, leaving January 9,1967 to the final stop in Montreal December 5, 1967, it awed 2.5 million visitors in 63 cities across the country, its horn sounding out the first four notes of “O Canada” whenever it arrived and departed. Centennial Caravan tractor-trailers, carrying similar exhibits, reached 6.5 million people in 655 smaller communities that the train did not reach. The train and caravans were both very popular attractions. It was awesome and uniting, what it was intended to be.

All levels of governments invested, for the past and for the future. So what has changed in the past 50 years? Other that all of us getting older! I believe there is still a strong appreciation for being Canadian. A strong appreciation for what our governments do, striving for equality and justice, striving for economic stability and growth. We, as a nation, have continued to welcome strangers, recalling that we are descendants of ‘strangers’. My fore-parents came as refugees, fleeing the hostility in Russia, seeking safety and security in a foreign land. The Mennonites were assigned areas in which to settle, the East and West Reserves, and from here, they began their work to contribute to the nation that welcomed them. As will those we now welcome. The descendants of the many settlers, some refugees, some seekers, contribute to the fields of science, medicine, arts, theology– there were no limitations to what they could and did achieve. As will the descendants of those we now welcome.
To sit in the quiet, to sit with dignity, in my home, in the place where I choose to live, to me, this is Canada.

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.
Sir Walter Scott