So today is Canada Day and what have you done? Another year over and a new one’s just begun… (Thanks J.L.) For some reason, today has made me reflect on what Canada Day actually means. Perhaps it was the facebook message/newsletter I got that told me that Canada Day marks the day Canada became independent…which is wrong. Just flat WRONG. In fact, there are probably better milestones to celebrate that July 1st, 1867 when the Dominion of Canada was created (they chose ‘dominion’ because ‘Kingdom’ would have upset the yanks).

We could celebrate the founding of the first French colony. Or the American Revolution which essentially created two political entities in North America. How about the Balfour Declaration of 1926? It concluded that Canada (among other ‘colonies’) was “autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”

The Statute of Westminster of 11 December 1931 perhaps deserves the most consideration because it essentially marks Canada’s full legislative independence from Britain. Then again we didn’t get a flag until 1965, nor an official national anthem until 1980. Hell, our constitution wasn’t even in the country until 1982. That was also the year that July 1st became Canada Day. Until then it was Dominion Day.

While I believe that blind nationalistic fervor is evil, ugly and wrong, I consider myself a patriot. I consider the difference between a nationalist and a patriot to be that a nationalism is exclusive and a patriotism is inclusive. This country has seen some horrible things, things that could equate to genocide. We have been complicit to horrible wars. This is not to say that we should focus on the negative but rather be aware that Canada is not just hockey and maple syrup.

I take Canada’s history into perspective knowing that while we are not the ideal country (for many reasons it doesn’t make sense that Canada continues to exist) we are a young country and we have the ability to shape it more freely, learning from others without being bogged down with the burden of history or precedence. Not to sound too much like an Obama campaign but I sincerely believe that Canada can provide hope. It’s up to us to work together to overcome regional, provincial, territorial, and cultural differences.

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