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O Canada, we need to talk

In this edition of Mercy Traveller, Philip Maher needs a moose to hug
moose AdobeStock_93627989
Stock image

Well, another Canada Day weekend is upon us with the usual Guelph fireworks. Thanks, Rotary Club of Guelph, for the celebration.

I’d like to raise some issues before you pull out the Canada Day weenies for roasting. It seems that we are at a number of crossroads in this great Dominion; we need to clarify who we are rather than who we are not —we are not American. But we are conflicted about who we are and want to be known for. So, we need to have a little sit-down conversation.

Let’s start.

Canada has been extolled as a mosaic, welcoming people from all over the world. In recent months, we have welcomed thousands of refugees at the U.S border in addition to those using regular channels. Having worked with a number of refugee-related projects I have seen some of the struggles that both refugees and communities are facing.

Recently, the mayor of Toronto said the city has “exhausted our available sites, our resources and our personnel.” By the end of 2018, the city will have spent $64 million on refugee-related services.

This issue is replicated elsewhere. So my question is: Are we serious about being a generous country receptive to those who are fleeing harm? We like the image. Are we willing to continue living up to the hype? If so, we need more resources to face this challenge. We can’t just dump it on local communities. Does that seem reasonable?

Ok another topic: Finally, we are beginning to recognize issues around First Nations in Canada. A lot has been done, but we are being asked for more. On Canada Day, we like to think of Canada as a great country full of generous people who seek justice. We cannot keep pushing indigenous issues down the road. What are we willing to do in this confederation to resolve issues around First Nations that are calling for resolution?

One more issue: Canada is a land that is rich in resources. However, they do not come free, especially in the oil patch. Between fracking for oil and sucking oil from sand in northern Alberta, these resources significantly contribute to our taxes, and to be fair, to our social services. However, the environment is important to us all. Can we find our way to realistically managing our environment while contributing to the taxes that pay for our lifestyle and our generosity to those in need? It seems to me this is not a binary decision—good or bad. Are the controls for oil extraction and pipelines enough? Maybe they are or maybe they are not. You can make an informed decision.

We play a video in our heads of who we think Canadians are. We are all nice folks wearing lumberjack shirts hugging a moose. But it’s time to put on our big boy snow pants and start climbing these tough issues. My point is not to persuade anyone on any issue, but it is to encourage us all to reflect on these changes and figure out who we want to be.  

Happy Canada Day. Now, where do I find a moose to hug?


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About the Author: Philip Maher

Philip Maher is a consultant and photojournalist. He has managed international communication projects for more than 20 years, taking him to more than 80 countries. His twitter is @mercytraveller.
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