This July 1st marks the 150th birthday of Canada. For months the country has been buzzing with preparations for wonderful celebrations to mark the occasion. From tiny towns to large cities, Canadians everywhere are feeling festive and looking forward to celebrating our great nation!
Like many milestones, I find this one has me reflecting on what being Canadian means to me. One thing that sticks out in my mind is the chance for a new beginning. Every year many people from all over the world come to Canada to start life anew. This was true for my family.
I am a first generation Canadian. Both of my parents were born in Portugal and immigrated separately with each of their families. They were both teenagers when they arrived in this country; my Dad arriving in 1969 in the middle of winter with my widowed grandmother and three of his five siblings; my mother arriving with my grandparents and her six siblings the summer of 1970. Both families came here for a fresh start, and both worked hard to build the lives they have now.
I have heard stories and been a witness to what my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have done to plant roots and be able to call Canada home. Viewing this beautiful country through my parents’ eyes gives me a great appreciation for being Canadian. Through them I see a country that welcomely accepts immigrants, gives them a chance at a good education, healthcare and jobs; a country that embraces multiculturalism, gives people freedom to practice and observe many faiths and is always ready to come together to help those in need. And let’s not forget the amazing landscape this country has to offer: majestic mountains, great lakes and incredible shorelines, to name just a few. Yes, Canada truly is a beautiful place to call home!
Not only is this a country I am proud to live in, but it is a country that I am proud to be raising my children in. As my kids grow they will learn about Canada at school — through history, geography and social studies, amongst other subjects — but as their mom I also want to teach them. I want to make sure they get a chance to view this country the way I did, through the eyes of their relatives who immigrated here.
I hope this July 1st Canadians everywhere take a moment to reflect and celebrate our wonderful country, and I wish you all a Happy Canada Day!