Happy Canada Day!

O Canada!

Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

“O Canada” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem on July 1st, 1980, one hundred years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, a well-known composer; French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The version on which the official English lyrics are based was written in 1908 by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons – government involvement – that explains why it is one of the most boring and out of date anthems on the planet!

Now before you ruffle your feathers and puff out your chest with nationalistic pride and offence at the thought, you have to remember the times.  In 1880, it was about standing guard and protecting the land.  One hundred and thirty years later; you would have thought we would have learned something…

Don’t misunderstand me, it is worth celebrating the sacrifice and good intentions (well, some not-so-good) that eventually formed this country; but I believe to celebrate Canada Day without an acute awareness of where we truly are is nothing short of blind ignorance – a dangerous thing on any occasion.  The true measure of a society is found in the least of us; not the GDP (gross domestic product), not the Olympics, and certainly not the economy.

Celebrate Canada Day

We have a lot to be thankful for as Canadians; the first of which is to be fortunate enough to live in this country alone.  The number of people who are able to afford the luxury of a Starbuck’s coffee on the world average is less than one in one thousand, and the percentage that have adequate nutrition on our planet is dropping below fifty percent – and yet here we have the pick of the crop, and Starbuck’s is a daily ritual for millions.

As Canadians, we are exactly like any other culture; often failing to see how well we have it as we complain for more.  It’s easy to get into comparisons from East to West, province to province, English speaking and French…But when we face the reality of the world we live in, there are no soldiers lining our streets on a daily basis, hospitals exist, and there is help available for those in need.

To celebrate Canada Day is to give recognition to all the wonderful things available to us as Canadians, to be grateful, and to be thankful.  In a world filled with violence and denial of even basic human rights, Canada remains an island of calm and relative prosperity.  During the financial meltdown of not so long ago, we were one of only a few of the world’s nations who weathered the crisis with hardly an effort – while this Canada Day more than one country faces financial disaster as a fact of life.

Work to do

As I said earlier, the true measure of a society is in the least of us; which oddly enough seems to be forgotten completely as Canada Day approaches.  To be grateful and thankful to be Canadian is more than a passive thought that we feel on a single day of the year, it needs to be recognition that all Canadians share the same rights, privileges, treatment, and protection.  If we fail to protect or provide for any one of us…well, our measure is in the least of us.

We can be thankful

The following list illustrates some of the things we can be aware of, thankful for, and perhaps choose to take action to improve on as we move forward:

  • We can be thankful that Canada has only 300,000 homeless (there are roughly 600 million homeless world-wide.)
  • We can be thankful that only 5.5 million Canadians run the risk of starvation and inadequate nutrition (globally, starvation numbers exceed one billion seven hundred fifty million.)
  • We can be thankful that a Canadian may walk though any street in Canada with no fear of falling rockets or missiles (as occurred in ninety three countries last year.)
  • We can be thankful that none of Canada’s indigenous species became extinct this last year (to date, the world has seen the extinction of 67,489 species for July 1st, 2011.)

Jaded?  Not at all…

It may sound like I am a little jaded, and perhaps I am to a certain degree.  I have been fortunate enough to see first-hand children starving, and hold them in my arms to give them some measure of comfort as they died.  I have seen the furtive looks skyward of a people living under threat of missiles and rockets, scurrying like frightened mice from building to building.

My point is simply this:  Please celebrate Canada Day and enjoy it with all your heart, but do it with the true knowledge of how lucky we really are as compared to so many others.  Turn gratefulness and thankfulness into action verbs and perform a random act of kindness on Canada Day to remind yourself how fortunate we are to be here, especially at this time in our world.  We are blessed beyond measure to live here.

A commitment to a new anthem

We need a new anthem as a country – one that speaks from our hearts and reminds us of what our true measure of greatness is.  We are a compassionate and loving people on the whole, and we need to be reminded of this too.  Yes, I still vote for “Canada Is” as sung by Roger Whittaker (you can follow this link to see the lyrics), but I am open to suggestions!

Whatever it is, it needs to be sung in the hearts of all Canadians, and fully realized until not one of us need suffer…and then we can bring that success into the world and show a better way – promoting peace, love, equality and a willingness to share in the bounty this great land gives us.

Happy Canada Day, I am truly grateful for so many things, all of you included!




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