EDITORIAL: A great nation to call home

July 1 is Canada’s 147th birthday and for most of the past 147 years, it has been respectful of other countries and of its wide variety of people, who come from widely disparate backgrounds and traditions.

There are some significant exceptions, however, which must be stated up front. Canada has done a generally poor job in maintaining good relations with the aboriginal people who were here before any immigrants arrived. For the first 100 years of our independence, there were ongoing efforts to assimilate them, take away their land, unique cultures and heritage, and subjugate them.

It is only in recent years that more Canadians have started to appreciate the unique perspective that First Nations people bring to this country. Here in B.C., where we have a wide variety of very different First Nations groups, most of whom have no treaties, First Nations issues are front and centre, as was demonstrated on Thursday by a Supreme Court of Canada decision on aboriginal title, brought forward by the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

The other blot on our history comes in the treatment of Asians, particularly the Japanese during the Second World War. While there have been apologies and financial settlements, that aspect of our history is a shameful one, as were the discriminatory tactics used to keep out prospective immigrants from China and India.

What Canada does do well, however, is to learn from our mistakes. This country has always been a grouping of different people. In 1867, it was the aboriginal people, those of French and British backgrounds.

Since then, people came to help populate our wide-open spaces from all over the world. At first, most came from Europe and the United States. There were also early settlers of Chinese and Japanese backgrounds. In the past 50 years, the doors have been opened wider for people from all over.

Together, these diverse peoples have forged a country respectful of religions, traditions and cultures; committed to fight injustices; economically strong and well-positioned — and one of the best places in the world to live.

Happy Birthday, Canada.

– The Langley Times (Black Press)



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