This week’s guest post is written by Steve Plenert, peace program coordinator for MCC Manitoba.
Oh Canada, you make me so proud and so exasperated at the same time. I am so fortunate to have been born in this democratic, resource rich, multi-cultural, Olympic-curling-gold-medal producing nation! Winnipeg winters aside, for a white, middle class grandpa with educated, empowered daughters and grand-daughters, it couldn’t get much better.
Oh Canada, you have embarrassed me over the past decade or so as I’ve come (somewhat) to terms with our colonial history. The Indian Act, the reserve system and Indian Residential Schools have made it difficult to look Indigenous people in the eyes. I wish we didn’t have this racist legacy (and pain and brokenness and blood) on our hands.
Oh Canada, you are such a beautiful place with your forests and mountains and lakes and rivers and wildlife. Even the Manitoba mosquitoes can’t keep me from loving how gorgeous our geography is. How vast and intricate and exquisite!
Oh Canada, you are home to 70 percent of the world’s mining companies. Resource extraction has become the name of our prosperity game. I know how much I benefit from this in terms of social services, transfer payments and more. But couldn’t we find a way to leave some of the resources for future generations? Could we try and protect endangered wildlife and entire ecosystems from the ravages of our industriousness?
Oh Canada, you are a beacon of democracy and of government systems that include functional parliaments, legislatures, city councils and astonishingly effective bureaucracies. The people and parties that win elections get to take over power without military intervention. Government-run systems of health care and education provide quality healing and learning opportunities to the vast majority of Canadian people.
Oh Canada, you annoy me with your Senate scandals and legislators who fear-monger people with their “tough on crime” mantras. Will locking up more Indigenous, indigent and mentally ill people actually make us safer and happier? I would like us to learn how to be communities that deal with the challenges in our midst rather than merely be individuals who care only about our own interests.
Oh Canada, I am so proud of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms! This is one banner piece of nation building for which much of the world envies us. I don’t have to be the same as everyone else to be safe here. I can live out my faith convictions or sexual orientation without fear of being locked up for them.
Oh Canada, I would love it if we could look past our individual rights and freedoms sometimes. We could do much better at helping the marginalized to be less so. Be they Indigenous, incarcerated, mentally ill, economically challenged, racial or sexual minorities, we could be still more inclusive and welcoming in our communities.
Oh Canada! I love you but . . .