Being Canadian

January 13, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Mayor Sandy Brown

For most people, ushering in the New Year involves many traditions.  Celebrating with special foods, friends, and customs – people staying up late to see the old year out and the New Year.

2022 New Year’s Eve celebrations around the globe were overshadowed by the pandemic. While muted, large gatherings were approached with caution – but ringing in the New Year is still a testament to the spirit and hope of Canadians for a better future.

As we celebrate, we can look back on our history with a mixture of both accomplishment and concern. No country is perfect, and Canada has had its fair share of mistakes that we must recognize and learn from, but we have golden moments as well.

There are numerous significant historical events in Canada’s history that helped create the fabric that is Canada. I think we need to remember and celebrate how great Canada is despite some of the ugly truth of previous generations. 

We need to continue to consistently work on reconciliation and equity issues.  

These are some moments that I feel are worthy of remembering and celebrating, in no particular order.

Universal Health Care

The debate over offering medicare to every Canadian citizen was fiery in 1960. Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas believed every province owed their residents a basic level of care and fought tooth and nail to make that happen. But doctors were up in arms over the thought of being under government control and went on strike for 23 days as the province was thrown into disarray. Douglas went on to lead the newly formed NDP and every other province adopted the same model within ten years.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was created and signed into law in 1982. The Charter ensures the rights and freedoms of every individual by granting greater political and civil rights to all Canadians and paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005.

Discovery of Insulin

Before insulin, getting diabetes could often mean a death sentence. But in 1920, Dr. Frederick Banting, an unknown in his field, thought he’d found the cure to diabetes. And it all revolved around a dog’s pancreas. Working out of a tiny lab, Banting and his assistant Charles Best removed the pancreas from dogs, and when they got diabetes, they injected the dog’s ground up pancreas to treat the disease. When the blood sugar dropped, a treatment was born. After years of testing, they perfected a formula, winning a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Highway of Heroes

In 2002, after the first Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, the fallen soldiers were driven down a stretch of Ontario’s Highway 401, running from Trenton to Toronto. Thousands lined the overpasses in a grassroots movement to show respect to the soldiers and their families. Since then, the section has been officially renamed the Highway of Heroes in honour and remembrance of Canada’s fallen soldiers.

Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope

If Canada has one gleaming hero, it must be Terry Fox. No other Canadian — man or woman — so captivated a nation. At just 18 years old, Canadian hero Terry Fox was diagnosed with bone cancer and had his right leg amputated above the knee. Looking past his own illness and overwhelmed by the suffering of the other cancer patients he met during treatment, he decided he would run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He ran a marathon a day (42 kms) for 143 days, completing 5,373 kms and building a strong legacy. Unfortunately, Terry was forced to stop running when cancer spread to his lungs, and he passed away at just 22 years old. Since then, over $800 million has been raised worldwide in his name.

International Sports

We Canadians love our sports. The following names evoke pride and put us back to the moment when an event happened – to the euphoria of an entire nation. Paul Henderson, Nancy Greene, Simon Whitfield, Christine Sinclair and the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team, Donovan Bailey, Men’s and Women’s Olympic Hockey, Bianca Andreescu. All achieved success on the world stage – backed by an entire country.    

The pandemic will end soon – we will bounce back and get back to enjoying time with friends and family – attending festivals and concerts and enjoying all that Canada and the world has to offer. We will also get back to reflecting on the past – continuing to work on Indigenous issues and ensure that everyone in this country is treated fairly and equally, to ensure that all have the same opportunities. I’m a glass half full guy – we need to build on the successes of this beautiful country by educating and supporting the next generation.

What we do from here will be a true reflection of our values as a country. That includes recognizing the accomplishments and failures of our history, bringing awareness of our past – but, above all else celebrating this great Nation. The best Country in the world, Canada.  

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