As Canada celebrates it’s 150th birthday today, I can’t help but reflect how blessed I am to have been born in such a country.
Canada is a country of amazing diversity. We have oceans (3 of them!), mountains, forests, and wide open prairies. We have an abundance of natural resources and unlike much of the world, we have pure, clean drinking water.
With the exception of our First Nations and Inuit people, we are all descendants of newcomers to this land; people who came dreaming of a better life and who were willing to work hard to achieve it. We still see that in our recent waves of immigrants and refugees. We are truly an international country. In fact, one in five Canadians is foreign born! Learning to live together in spite of our differences isn’t always easy and many people have mixed feelings about topics like immigration and integration, but we pull together when times are tough, we help one another, and we do it with pride because that’s what being Canadian is all about. We are known for our kindness and generosity, our open mindedness, and our optimism.
According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, Canada ranks among the ten safest countries in the world. Though I don’t think too highly of the man-child that we elected as our present Prime Minister or the policies put forth by his government, I don’t have to look very far beyond our borders to see so much worse.
For me, especially in recent years, one of the greatest benefits of being Canadian is our publicly funded health care. I have absolutely no idea how much my care has cost since I was diagnosed with first one cancer and then another, but I have no doubt that by now I’m a million dollar girl! Amazingly, it hasn’t cost me a cent! Even the money we spend on gas, meals and parking for our many trips to the city for tests, appointments and treatments is tax deductible.
Our taxes are high. In fact, most Canadians pay close to 50% of their incomes in taxes of one kind or another, but in addition to world class health care, we get a lot for our tax dollars. We tend to take the twelve years of free public education available to every Canadian for granted, not to mention other social programs such as unemployment insurance and old age pensions.
Sure, we do have long, cold winters, but I try not to think about that at this time of year!
Happy Birthday, Canada!