By Stephen Fuhr, Kelowna-Lake Country MP
I love this country. I was honoured to defend it and now I feel privileged to serve in its Parliament.
I have had the opportunity to see so much of our nation: To meet Canadians of all walks of life, creed, and colour; to see its staggering landscape while hiking its mountains, fishing its waters, and driving its highways; to see it from the flight deck of the planes I’ve piloted. It is breathtaking in its diversity, its beauty, and its abundance.
In Canada, we are sometimes defined by what we are not: We don’t all live in the North; the Canada Food Guide does not have a special category for poutine, clamato juice, or double-doubles; we don’t say aboot or ice skate before we can walk; and we are not Americans.
On Canada Day, it is important to reflect on who we are; and—as we mark 150 years of nationhood—to reflect on how we came to be and where we are headed.
Canada won its independence through negotiation and an act of Parliament, the British Parliament. Just a few maritime provinces and the St Lawrence Seaway formed this experiment in democracy. It began as an uneasy alliance of three peoples: British, French, and Aboriginal, with the goal of peace, order, and good government.
Within four years Canada purchased the vast Hudson Bay territories of Rupert’s Land, was joined by British Columbia, and made plans to unite the country along the spine of a Canada-Pacific Railway. The last spike was hammered in not far from here in Spallumcheen by men in top hats, but much of the railway was laid by thousands of Chinese labourers.
Canada continued to build the nation by wave upon wave of immigration, labourers and homesteaders fleeing misery and war to seek opportunity and peace. From every continent but Antarctica, people came. Our nation prospers from the talent we have culled from across the globe.
In this way, Canada became a nation and a people. We are Canadian not just because we were born here, but for many of us because we have chosen to live here, to raise our families here, to build our lives here. Canada remains the G7 nation with the highest proportion of foreign-born citizens.
And look what we have become: The second-largest nation in the world with a vast endowment of natural resources; a trusted ally that has stepped up to fight against tyranny alongside our brothers in arms; a haven for peace-loving peoples the world over.
We have survived in this harsh landscape because of the grit and perseverance of individuals. There is much to be said for the ruggedness it takes to build a nation in the wilderness that now stands shoulder to shoulder with nations whose histories stretch for millennia.
I contend that we have thrived because we have stood together to support one another. When we are sick, we care for each other. When we are threatened, we protect each other. When we are jobless, we bridge the gap to future prospects. When we are old, we provide. And when we serve, we honour the sacrifice.
In Canada, we have created a nation where everyone has a shot, everyone’s got your back, and everyone is welcome. I am so proud to be a part of this community. I am so proud to be Canadian. I look forward to Canada stepping into the breech to lead the nations of the world. We will humbly showcase the success of our efforts. We have become the model and envy of the community of nations. We are Canadian.
Happy birthday Canada!