Today is the 145th anniversary of the creation of the only country that I have ever had the pleasure of calling home.
Today in 1867, the Dominion of Canada was born from through The British North America Act.
I love my country. I love its natural beauty and diversity. I love that you can drive through the near deserts of Drumheller and Milk River to the majestic and amazing Rocky Mountains to the incredibly beautiful north filled with forests and lakes and the bald-ass prairie which spans as far as the eye can see – and this all within one province! I love that an area so diverse and vast on its own is part of an even vaster and more diverse country.
In the 1660s, my ancestors immigrated to New France and settled near what is now known as Sorel, Quebec. In the 1890s, my family followed an Oblate missionary westward and homesteaded at a settlement in the North West Territories, later known as Morinville. They were hard working farmers, breaking land and farming through brutally hard conditions. Along with thousands of other pioneers, they started with nearly nothing, but together they succeeded in building healthy and vibrant communities across the western regions of Canada.
The harsh climate was not their only challenge. As western Canadian francophones, they met both resistance and racism from a government dominated by Anglophones and Protestants. It seems bizarre to me that only seventy years ago in Alberta, French language instruction in schools was restricted to the last period of the day (either a half-hour or hour, I believe). It was a policy of assimilation and in many cases it worked.
Despite the overwhelming odds, western Canadian francophones pushed back. I remember my grandfather telling me the story of how my great-great-uncle, attorney Lionel Tellier, fought the Canadian government for the right to have accessible French language census forms in Alberta. The court ruled in his favour in 1941 and census forms became bilingual.
Canadians live in an incredible place. As a country, we have an unbelievable amount of wealth in natural resources, but we also have incredible potential and an untapped wealth of resources in the form of our people.
As we celebrate the 145th anniversary of this great country, let us remember the Canadians who built this country and played a role in strengthening our position as an incredible place to live.
Happy Canada Day!