I am struck by the fact that it is March 2016, we are nine months away from January 2017 when we begin our 150th anniversary as a country and there seems to be little leadership or uptick regarding how this anniversary might be a watershed in our evolution as a country. How can we use this anniversary to further develop a country to be proud of; a country that is a hot bed of best practices in any number of domains: inclusion, equity, sustainability, innovation, citizen engagement, the arts, strong communities?
2017 provides us a moment in time when we can collectively sit back, recount and share stories of all that is gift and goodness about this land and how we live together. And to think critically and collectively about how we can preserve what is good and create what we need more of. What an amazing opportunity for all of us to set aside short terms goals and take the long view –to attend to the big picture of what this country is and has the potential to be and our role individually and collectively with friends, neighbours, colleagues and strangers.
Since our 100th anniversary in 1967, many new narratives have developed in our Canada story which are complex and sometimes flowing in grief and lament. We are in the process of hearing these stories and integrating them into the narrative of what it means to be Canada. Such narratives include:
· The fundamental recognition that there were thriving indigenous cultures and communities living on the land we now call Canada long before Europeans arrived.
· The tension of the continued dance of inclusion and differentiation of Quebec as a province within Confederation.
· The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has brought us into knowing that many of our nation building activities wrecked havoc in the lives of our First Nations neighbours with ongoing devastating consequences.
· The recognition of the discriminatory practices though out our history towards newcomers and those on the margins such at the Chinese, Japanese, People of colour, women
· Recognizing that that the resource extraction that has benefited our economy is significantly contributing to energy use and consumer lifestyles that are causing climate change.
These are just five of many other complex and challenging narratives which rightly put the brakes on embracing 2017 with a naive, rah rah, aren’t we great celebration of our nation.
That all being said – The event of our 150th anniversary as a group of people and peoples who have figured out how to hang together on this particular land mass, is worthy of the opportunity our 150th anniversary offers. We have developed governance, economic, cultural and social systems that allow 33 million people to live, love and work together.
Two thousand and seventeen offers Canadians the opportunity to reflect on what is gift and goodness, name what is regret grief and uncertainty and collectively commit to what we want to preserve and create. What an amazing opportunity, not one to be squandered by distraction with self-interest and short term goals. As Canadians we have this moment to further rise to the occasion of creating a country to be proud of, a country where all of our citizens give their gifts, live sustainably and where in the language of our First Nations ancestors we make decisions that will have positive outcomes seven generations into the future (Another 150 years!).
How are you and the families, communities, associations, businesses and institutions of which you are a member going to say yes to this opportunity? Say Yes to 2017!
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