Happy 150 Canada! Here are 30 reasons I’m proud to be Canadian and 30 reasons we need to do better

So this year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada becoming a country. Hooray! I am a very proud Canadian, and I will be celebrating with vigor. But it’s not without its controversy. Despite how we’d like it to be, Canada is not a perfect oasis for all people who are non-white, non-straight, and non-rich. We always brag about how we have gay marriage legalized, and how we aren’t as racist as the United States, and more. But realistically we have plenty of problems of our own. So in order to celebrate the anniversary of the country, I am going to be taking the good with the bad. We may be a great country with public healthcare and loads of fresh water, but we definitely have work to do.

The Good

  1. Longer life: According to OECD Better Life Index, Canada has a life expectancy of 82, which is two years higher than their average. On top of that, 89% of people reported to be in good health as well.
  2. Happier life: Also by the Better Life Index, Canadians report a 7.4 out of 10 satisfaction with their life on average. This is higher than the average of 6.5.
  3. Equally happy: Those results on Life Satisfaction reveal that men and women almost experience equal reports of satisfaction with their life. We rank at 1.03, with a score of 1 representing perfect equality.
  4. Fresh air: Canada has the third cleanest air in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
  5. Fresh water: Compared to the OECD Better Life Average of 81%, 90% of Canadians say they are satisfied with the quality of their water.
  6. Natural diversity: Canada is home to many different climates and topographies. From the beautiful Rockies, a mountain range, to the wide open prairies, to the arctic tundra of the northern territories, Canada has a lot to offer. canada-1821070_960_720
  7. Gotta protect it: Canada also has laws in place specifically to guard the environment. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act is a framework for which the government and citizens can behave in regards to toxic substances, resource mining, and waste management.
  8. Long road ahead: In 2015, the downward trend of serious injuries in car accidents continued, and the number of fatalities per 1 billion kilometers traveled was at an all time low, according to Transport Canada.
  9. Open minded: The Pew Research Center found that 80% of Canadians believe being gay should be accepted. It’s also on the rise, with a 10% raise from the previous study 6 years ago.
  10. Peace lovers: The 2017 Global Peace Index ranks Canada at the 8th most peaceful country of last year. Unfortunately, the degradation of the USA’s place means that North America at large was lowered, but we did what we could.
  11. Yay democracy!: Voting may be at an average of 68%, but the turnout of different classes is much closer than other countries. For the top 20%, it’s at a rate of 71% and for the bottom 20%, it’s at 67%. That’s a margin of 4, a more fair balance compared to the average of 13.
  12. Working hard: Canada has a relatively high employment rate of 72% for people between 15 and 64.
  13. Hardly working: Despite that high employment rate, only 4% of Canadian workers have to work very long hours as part of their jobs.
  14. Brainiacs: Education is an important feature of society, and in Canada, 90% of adults 25-64 have completed upper secondary school.
  15. Farmers: Smart farmers at that. Many agriculture inventions come from Canada, including canola, Macintosh Red apples, Yukon gold potatoes, and early forms of peanut butter.
  16. Great cooks: We also cooked up some amazing new foods. Poutine, Nanaimo bars, and butter tarts would not exist if not for Canadians.
  17. Reaching for space: Canada has a pretty strong presence with international space cooperation. When it came to build the space station, we build the Canadarm, an essential remote controlled arm used to grab and repair satellites.
  18. Getting to space: With nine Canadian astronauts going on 17 manned missions, Canada does good work on expanding man’s horizons.
  19. Man to earth: Also marking us on the map, we have astronaut, engineer and former fighter pilot Chris Hadfield. Our first space walker, he also was the man who would live stream and tweet from orbit, allowing people down on earth to almost experience space living. ISS-34_Chris_Hadfield_juggles_some_tomatoes
  20. Abilities aside: Canadians have a very empathetic view of disabled people and accessibility. 95% of people believe accessibility is an important consideration when building public places, and 86% believe their should be a more strict measurement and implementation of accessibility.
  21. Historically accessible: Many innovations that allow more accessibility came out of Canada, including wheelchair accessible buses, electric wheelchairs and prosthetic hands.
  22. Medical marvel: Medicine has also been innovated in Canada. Arguably most famously,  insulin was invented by Canadian scientists Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Collip.
  23.  Healthcare for all: Universal healthcare is one of the number one things that makes a different in quality of life for Canadians versus other countries. Now receiving healthcare is available to all citizens as their right.
  24. Self medicating: Not the biggest point of importance to many, but Canada is open to the idea of legalizing marijuana. There are 66% rate of people wishing to decriminalize or legalize marijuana.
  25. A safe place: Canada recently set a new record of refugees accepted in 2016 of 46 700.
  26. Open arms: Despite a less than flawless history, which we will discuss below, Canada is considered to have one of the most open immigration laws.
  27. Diversity: The Ethnic Diversity Survey, conducted by Stats Canada, found that half of the population reports being from French, English, or just Canadian heritage. Half of the population also reported to have a strong feeling of connection to their ethnic group.
  28. Not as overt: In that same survey, 9 out of 10 people reported not experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment in the last 5 years. Also, the amount of time that minorities feel out of place/uncomfortable in Canadian society was mostly answered Never.
  29. Bang bang: American’s are more likely to die to a accident with firearms than Canadians are to die to car accidents, pneumonia, or suicide.
  30. Hot for minister: We have a pretty cute Prime Minister.

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The Bad

  1. Rich get richer: Income inequality is not good in Canada at the moment. It’s also on the rise.
  2. Dollar isn’t a dollar: The Canadian dollar is struggling right now, at a value of 77 cents American.
  3. Conquering the “other”: Canada’s history is full of killing, raping, and plundering the people that were found here when we landed.
  4. Plenty of slavery: Despite the idea of Canada being the pure savior of slaves escaping the south, Canada had plenty of it’s own slavery. Especially when the British first landed, they enslaved the Native Americans very often.
  5. Hunted for sport: Native people also faced other forms of violence. Examples would include when the founder of Halifax, Edward Cornwallis, put up a bounty for scalps of Mi’kmaq people, including men, women, and children. image
  6. Strict education: Aboriginal children were ripped from their families and forced to attend residential schools that stripped them from their heritage. They were not allowed to learn their traditional languages or customs, and forced to learn English and Christianity instead. Experiments were also conducted on the non-consenting children.
  7. Dangerous classrooms: It was more dangerous to be a child in a residential school than it was to be a Canadian serving in World War II. CGfylhvUAAAuIaq
  8. Still excluded: In modern Canada, Aboriginal people are still facing racist persecution. Their unemployment rate is 2.1 times that of the national rate. They are incarcerated at 10 times the national rate. Their homicide rate is 6.1 times the national rate.
  9. Sexism intersects: Depending on who you believe, there were between 1200 (RCMP) to 4000 (Aboriginal women’s groups) Indigenous women and girls who went missing between 1980 and 2012.  Either way, Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely to face violence, and seven times more likely to be murdered than women of other races in Canada.
  10. Out of sight: Canada’s Aboriginal people’s were “given” land to them by the Queen to live and survive. Bypassing the ridiculousness of British colonialists giving land to the Aboriginal people, when the Aboriginal people were here first, this is a pretty pathetic compromise for people who had been stripped of their life, culture, and freedom.
  11. Health don’t care: Discrimination against Aboriginal people reaches to the life saving needs of healthcare. Aboriginal people face longer wait times, fewer referrals, and general mistreatment and disrespect.
  12. Inclusive slavery: Later on, as Canada became more established as a country, the slave trade of African people also occurred above the border.
  13. Organizing against humans: Canada was also home to it’s own racist organizations. The Klu Klux Klan had chapters above the border, and also had native born groups such as The Native Sons of Canada and the Orange Order. Keith_K._Allen,_Imperial_Klaliff,_Kanadian_Knights_of_Ku_Klux_Klan,_1925
  14. Cheap if not free: Even after slavery was abolished, black people were still treated as inferior and a source of cheap labour. Due to their image of uncivilized and criminal animals, people had no trouble using them.
  15. No entry: Canada has historically refused entry to immigrants and refugees because they were Chinese. From 1885 to 1923, Chinese immigrants faced an extra tax to immigrate, but then from 1923 to 1947, they were barred completely.
  16. Only just allowed in: Even when they were allowed in, the laws stopped Asian people from fully participating in society. They couldn’t vote, restricted from pharmacy, law, public office, and juries, and their children were excluded from schools.
  17. Rounded up: During World War II, racist fears caused Canada to round up all the Japanese people they could and placed them in internment camps. Their boats were impounded, schools closed, and straight up arrested if suspected of being an operative.
  18. Yep, even segregation: While the term segregation brings to mind the image of southern ignorance and black and white pictures, Canada is as guilty of it as USA. There were segregated schools in Ontario and Nova Scotia, and many other public places, such as pools and hotels.
  19. Continuing on: In Toronto, black people are 17 times more likely to be stopped and interrogated by police than white people. Anti-black racism is alive and well north of the border. 
  20. Power trip: Canada has their own police brutality problem as well. Especially against minorities and protesters, Canadian police have been known to use excessive force and fire on civilians. Here’s a list of most notable events. 
  21. Anti-Semitic: Canadians also had an issue with Jewish people, mainly in Quebec in the early 20th Century. They were seen as threats to Christian morality and civilization.
  22. More internment!: During World War I, there were also people interned, this time being mostly Austria-Hungarian, German, and other Central powers immigrants. They were sent into the Canadian wilderness and made to work at logging camps as slaves.
  23. Anti-Muslim/Sikh/Islam/any brown people basically: Hate crimes against Muslim Canadians, or anyone considered to be Muslim because of their dress or skin colour, has more than doubled in the past three years. 
  24. Not always at home: Homelessness in Canada is fairly high, and it’s not going down either. It’s reported that 200 000 Canadians experience homelessness in a given year. Most of Canada’s efforts to help homeless people tend to lean towards the short term, such as soup kitchens and shelters, rather than taking on the institutional hurtles many people face.
  25. Low self-controlCanada ranks #1 of the 19 wealthiest countries in terms of drinking and driving. While less people are dying in car accidents, the ratio of those deaths being related to alcohol is up.
  26. A strict binary: Trans* people still face a lot of roadblocks in Canadian society. 20% have been physically or sexually abused for being trans*, 13% have been fired for it, and 15% more were fired but were not completely sure that their gender identity was the cause. They also face discrimination on their official documents refusing to use their proper names and pronouns.
  27. Law can’t save culture: While there are some laws protecting LGBTA+ people in Canada, and same sex marriage in legal, homophobia is not dead here. 70% of students partaking in a study on the subject report hearing homophobic slurs and phrases used at school.
  28. Ode to the monsters: Ignorantly ignoring our history has lead to naming institutions and locations after historical figures that do not deserve the honor. University of McGill is named for James McGill, someone who personally owned slaves and forced them to take his name because they were his property. Edward Cornwallis, who was already mentioned on this list, has many streets and buildings with his name in Halifax. 640px-Statue_of_James_McGill_05
  29. Oil and oil and oil: Alberta is a huge source of oil from the sands there. But the intense extracting of that oil is wreaking havoc over the environment. They’re the leading source of air pollution in all of North America. 
  30. Wild wildlife: Bears, moose, beavers, and Canadian geese. All animals that represent us as a country, and they will all completely f*ck you up if you ran into them. Especially the geese.

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Now, before anyone comments, just know that I am aware that this is not a completely exhaustive list. There are several facets of life I didn’t cover, and plenty of historical moments I didn’t include. My goal here was not to write an all encompassing thesis on the Canadian experience, but rather to ask you all to take some extra time and think about what it really means to be Canadian. Being Canadian isn’t just drinking beer, watching hockey, and saying eh. It’s supposed to represent more than that. It’s suppose to mean freedom and happiness for all who live here. It’s supposed to mean acceptance and love when the world is a dark and scary place. It’s supposed to mean an natural oasis that we protect with our lives. Some of those things may hold true, but most have been overlooked or ignored. Canada is still a work in progress, so let’s all work together to make it undoubtedly the best country in the world, eh?

 

 

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