Thursday, June 30, 2005

Celebrating Your Country...

Tomorrow is Canada Day and we plan to celebrate it in the birthplace of Confederation, Prince Edward Island with some very good family friends. We’ve checked the tent, packed plenty of sunscreen and bug stuff, but I need to get my web site updated for the weekend before I go. Nick has taken off his watch for the summer since he officially finished at noon yesterday. This year may take a little longer to unwind from, but this weekend away should help.

For most of us in Canada and the USA, this weekend (Canada Day for us on the 1st and the 4th of July for my family and friends in the USA) is one of get-togethers, celebrations and also, some patriotic pride in our countries. This year, while I still feel incredibly glad and privileged to live in a democracy and in a country with as many resources, opportunities and wealth as Canada, I cannot suppress a twinge of regret.

Canada’s Health Care System USED to be the envy of many countries. We used to be a country that prided itself on taking care of our sick, our elderly, our poor... We used to be a country that built great rail and roadway systems, made sure that green spaces were protected, invested in science and education so that our futures would be bright...

Sadly, our country seems to be placing more emphasis on business above all, rewarding the friends of those in power and of cutting “costs” (ie. education, health care, etc.) while still wasting MILLIONS of tax dollars on frivolous things.

My girls are learning to speak out for causes they believe in and that they have a place in any democracy. They drew posters and we went as a family to a City Council Meeting to protest a land swap that will see over 23 acres of the park near us turned over for commercial development. They are frustrated that their lives are affected by a bunch of “grown-ups who don’t care about the bunnies and squirrels whose homes they’ll be hurting”. But they are also learning that their actions can be noticed. The whole group of supporters trying to stop this “done deal” clapped when the girls posters were praised in the council meeting.

What does it take to turn a country around? I’m not sure. I do know that it begins with each individual doing their best to make their town or community a caring one. It grows stronger every time that someone speaks out against injustice or tries to correct a wrong. ... and it blooms into something beautiful every time a group of people remember to look towards the future with a vision for what a country could be instead of just reacting day by day, crisis by crisis. Let’s all take time to dream this weekend!!!