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To Be Canadian

What does it mean to you to be Canadian? Does your heart swell with pride when you hear our national anthem played? When our flag is raised? When our military serve so bravely in other countries? When our athletes win a medal at the Olympics? Do you really value your citizenship in this glorious country?

My grandparents came from Poland and Austria in the early 1900s. They chose Canada for much the same reason others are still seeking entry and citizenship today. They saw the endless possibilities of living in a land of freedom and opportunity. Like so many immigrants in their time they were excited at the prospect of owning so much land for $10. They were extremely proud to make Canada their home, and their loyalty to this new home was remarkable. They came, worked the soil and left their legacy in the countless farms that form our agriculture today. Other immigrants chose different occupations and also contributed much to the wealth of this nation. Their work made our country strong and successful. Immigration today continues to give us a population that strengthens and defines our country with a multicultural society equal to none.

Perhaps you have always been here as an Aboriginal Canadian. Or you are one who can trace his/her heritage back to the days when Aboriginal women married or lived with fur traders or explorers so many years ago. You have much to be proud of as your ancestors have played a vital role in the beginning of Canada: helping newcomers survive and flourish in an often harsh environment. Today you form a large segment of the population and serve greatly in all walks of life.

This Canada of ours – a land of open spaces – millions of acres of wilderness. One can drive for miles and not see anyone other than a wild animal. Out of the 2.3 billion acres of land, Canada has 10 per cent of the world’s forest acreage, which amounts to a billion acres. We have thousands of clean lakes.

Canada – a land of freedom to worship, to speak freely and participate in elections by voting or running for office. A country where human rights are respected and health care is available to all, whether rich or poor. We have a police force (municipal, city or RCMP) of which we can be proud, and except for a few negative incidents that occur, generally respected. While we sleep or go about our daily duties, it is comforting to know that we have them maintaining law and order.

Our military forces: brave men and women who volunteer their lives by peacekeeping, and fighting terrorism and injustice around the world. Our veterans: who fought to keep Canada free from the tyranny and oppression that threatened our freedom and democracy.

This Canada Day, as always, I will count my blessings. I am proud to be Canadian!

– Joanne Rawluk writes from Gypsumville, Manitoba

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