I am a naturalized Canadian citizen, meaning that I did not acquire Canadian citizenship by being born in Canada. Rather, my family immigrated here and chose to make this our home. I love Canada and I regularly pray for our beautiful country. However, in recent weeks, it has become difficult to express my love for our country without coming to terms with some of the shameful parts of our history.
As we continue to discover more burial sites and remains of children that suffered under the residential schools, I have been asked this question several times: “Is it appropriate to celebrate Canada Day this year?”
I cannot answer this question for everyone—this is going to be a personal choice for all Canadians. I believe it is appropriate to grieve and mourn with the Indigenous communities that are grieving. I also believe we must listen to our Indigenous friends and find a way to be better neighbours.
God calls us to be good neighbours, and we have failed in this regard, so we must lead the charge in becoming good neighbours for everyone in our nation.
However, grieving looks different for each person. Just because someone has a Canada flag up, it does not mean that they are insensitive to the national tragedy that we are processing together. Conversely, just because someone is not celebrating Canada Day this year, it does not mean that they do not deeply care about our nation.
We sometimes hastily pass judgment on others when they do not express grief or love in the same way we do. When they look different, we tend to judge rather than seeking to understand. One of my mentors recently reminded me of an important truth: Seek to understand before judging others. The bible also warns against judging others (Matthew 7:1-5).As we celebrate Canada Day this year, let us choose to be gracious to one another and seek to stand in unity rather than to be divisive. Our country needs healing and unifying, so let’s pray toward that end.