Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 20, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Hats off to Canada


Why Canada matters.

I’m always suspicious of ratings because many times, the people doing the survey have a vested interest. A recent study out of the U.S. had over 20,000 responses from 36 countries who were asked to score 80 countries on a number of attributes. Canada ranked third overall as one of the best countries in the world in which to live and was also ranked #1 for overall quality of life.

Justifiably, we might want to puff up our chests a little bit and take a bow. But we know, our country is far from perfect.

I did my own small unscientific study on my recent walk across Spain. The Camino gave me an opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to fly our flag. I had a bag of Canadian pins and passed them out with pride. Probably the most excited people to receive this small trinket were a group of high school students who interviewed me in the great plaza at Santiago de Compostela. They were anxious to hear about my Camino experience and asked me several insightful and thoughtful questions.

Before leaving for Spain, my good friend Eva affixed a Canadian flag patch to the back of my Tilley hat. I realize that this might be passé in 2019 but I’m kind of passé so I didn’t think that anyone would be terribly offended.

I walk quickly and more often than not, I was passing people on the trail. I would be courteous while in the passing lane, wishing one and all the standard Camino greeting: “Hola. Buen Camino”. Very often when I would be ten feet past, I would hear “Oh, you’re from Canada.”

This would invariably spark a discussion as we quizzed each other about our citizenship and shared stories of common interest. One thing I did discover is that most of the folks I met on the road were very much like me… except with more hair! They seemed to share the same wants and needs, goals and aspirations. Most people spoke highly of our home and native land. A long history of being peace keepers has kept us as a good global citizen.

But we shouldn’t be too smug and start celebrating our international reputation too quickly. We have a couple of nagging problems. Actually, they are very serious and disturbing issues. For a country built by immigrants, there are parts of our country, even in our own back yard, that continue to exhibit racist tendencies. Our great national disgrace is our repeated failure to properly address the myriad problems with our First Nations people.

Part two of this problem is xenophobia which is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.

Unlike many parts of the world, immigrants and refugees are not streaming across our borders. Our governments have programs in place to welcome newcomers. Make no mistake about it. We need more immigrants as birth rates plummet and with an aging population.

So, why is it that many Canadians are happy to take a swipe at people who don’t look like us or share many of our cultural practices?

This is a head scratcher. Anytime someone takes a broadside at an immigrant, my standard response is quite simple. “Where did your people come from originally?” Yes, you might be a fourth or fifth generation Canadian but somewhere along the line, your ancestors traveled from some other part of the world to start a new life.

Diversity makes us rich.

If we are going to continue our lofty position as one of the great countries in which to live, we need to be more tolerant and understanding.

Make no mistake. This is a great country with natural beauty, vast resources and solid values.

But we still have work to do.

Have a great weekend.


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