As we approach Christmas and the holiday season I start to consider what’s important in my life and what I want to achieve in the new year. I hope this season brings you peace and joy, and 2023 is a great year for you.
There is a trouble in the world right now and there is discontent in Canada. It’s important to me to remark on what Canada is, what we have as Canadians and consider how being Canadian can benefit us here at home, and those abroad.
Canada / My Canada
Instructions and notes for my students
Welcome visitors and students. Each year I reflect on the previous year, my feelings, my goals, and thoughts about the future. I welcome you to read this text. I wrote this text for a native speaker audience, but I invite you to read it and try to study the vocabulary, and consider the meaning in my essay. Of course we can discuss in our tutoring sessions. Want an additional challenge? Try writing about your country and national identity.
My Canada is inclusive and pluralistic (everyone belongs)
Canada represents many things but one of the most important is freedom. IT’s the freedom to be an individual, to be respected by others, to be able to be honest and critical about who we are, to celebrate our cultural backgrounds and love whoever we want.
Canada, to me, is a place that welcomes everyone, regardless of race and ethnicity, religion, culture, gender or sexual orientation. Welcoming everyone is being inclusive. We actively include everyone and try not to exclude anyone. Pluralism is allowing for diverse voices and different groups of people to shine and share their backgrounds.
I remember a group of Latino Canadians in Pickering, the Castellanos brothers, who hosted concerts for the neighbourhood in basements and churches. Their motto? “Unity in Diversity.” They inspired me and they found motivation in their community and the Baha’i Faith, to embrace the wide range of cultures and art forms in Greater Toronto.
In Canada we all belong and we should fight to maintain this. Respect for others can’t be taken for granted. We built this country on welcoming newcomers and celebrating diversity. That’s my Canada.
Looking back on 2022
Now this is a difficult time as there is unrest in Iran, and war in Ukraine (among other places such as Africa and the Middle East).
My Canada is Democratic (Ukraine, Iran and the fight for democracy)
The war in Ukraine has really touched me, for a number of reasons. The first is that I have family from Russia. And it is with deep regret that I think about their state wreaking havoc and destruction on their neighbour. There is no way to sugar coat it. We pray for Ukraine and see their potential to prevail as a catalyst for permanent change in Russia.
The fight in Ukraine is one that represents struggles for freedom and democracy around the world. There are those in the West, in Canada, Europe, the U.S., who would seek to take away our freedoms and rights. I’m talking about serious and fundamental rights. Not the right to wrap yourself in a flag or demand that you don’t need to be vaccinated or wear a mask, but deeply profound rights like the right to security and safety, to healthcare, to broader rights like the right to live in a society that protects the environment and protects the weak. There are groups both in the political mainstream on the right and on the fringes who would work to remove our rights and tear down our democracy.
Those who would restrict the rest of us and represent the anti-democratic movements riding some popularity here at home, reveal themselves by decrying providing financial or military aid to Ukraine. And Ukraine is fighting for everyone’s democracy. As are the demonstrators in Iran. Let’s support them as we stand strong for democracy here and abroad.
What is your Canada? What does your country represent?
Canada isn’t perfect. I think you probably understood that from my essay. We have to remain vigilant. Like other nations, Canada has a long road to go toward prioritizing the environment and fighting climate change. But we have a strong democratic system and our system values and respects both other people and the rule of law.
My students come from all around the world. I have had hundreds or conversations with people from the continents of Asia, Africa, Latin and South America, Europe, Australia and North America. It’s a global community we have here in Toronto, Canada. It’s a place of pluralism and the much envied multiculturalism which could be a model for the world (perhaps one day when peace comes and the country rebuilds, Ukraine will have healed and implemented some form of a multicultural state?).
My Canada is simply a place where people respect other people while valuing our collective security, health, prosperity and democracy. I am very interested in how you may feel about Canada and how you would describe your country if you have moved here from abroad. As always I welcome your comments. Let me know what you think via email or we an chat in a future tutoring session.
All the best for 2023.
Mike Simpson is a community builder, designer, and ward-winning educator from Toronto. He’s the owner of Tdot.com, a design agency specializing in social media, websites and e-learning. Mike has a love for art, culture, design, photography and blogging. He offers training and tutoring, and teaches and develops courses at Tdot Studio and Centennial College. If you would like to hire or work with Mike please reach out via email.