Canada Day 2018


I’ve always been grateful for the fact that I was born in Canada. That gratitude grows more fervent and sincere as I grow older and discover just how fortunate and blessed we are as Canadians.

I’ve mentioned before in a post on igNation that we live in one of the safest, healthiest and wealthiest nations in the world. Canada regularly places high up on lists of desirable places to live.

Of course, anyone who is aware of reality knows that there are far too many Canadians who are missing out on that safety, health and wealth. Go to a First Nations community or spend time near the homeless and impoverished in cities, both large and small.

Even if I cannot really be a big help to them, can I be at least aware and compassionate? Are my thoughts and prayers enough? No, but we all need to discover the ways we can be of most help. A simple thing like a welcoming attitude is a better thing than a critical attitude.

A characteristic usually mentioned about this country is its diversity and the welcome offered to so many from around the world. I recently read the account of a young Iranian man who spent four years as a refugee in Turkey, getting away from a situation in Iran that threatened his life.

He was awaiting the results of hearings into the possibility of coming to Canada. He writes, “I have thought of suicide. I have thought of different ways to end this miserable waiting. But there is a hope in the name Canada. It conjures imagery in my mind that is both vivid and uncertain. A better life. Freedom. Safety in a distant northern land.”

Once again, reality steps in and we have to acknowledge how stressful and difficult it is to grow into a sense of true belonging and inclusion, even in a welcoming nation. The uncertain reality that the young man mentions has a world of possibilities, but it also leaves many people isolated and stranded.

There are men, women and children living in their homelands or refugee camps who fantasize of life in a place of safety, wealth, health and opportunity like Canada. I wonder if those of us who live here really grasp that, but also grasp the fact that we are so blessed.

My personal experience is that it is only when I step out of my own milieu that I comprehend the truth. It happens when I encounter the reality in our First Nations communities. Or, when I hear the stories of new Canadians or hear the stories of those who work in refugee camps around the globe.

The reality comes alive in a graphic way when I travel to lands where people have only their dreams and hopes to live on. “Canada. A better life. Freedom. Safety in a distant northern land.”

But, when I sip my latte in a comfortable Starbucks or when I sit in a comfortable room, I’m a long way from grasping the good fortune I have. As we celebrate our 151st birthday, let’s take time to rejoice in the great diversity of this nation: our cultures, languages, and geography.

I am grateful that I can call myself Canadian, and I do so with pride!

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Maria Skarzynski
    Posted at 10:50h, 02 July Reply

    And here’s to Canada !! as I drink my morning coffee !! Thank you father Philip ! Marysia Skarzynski

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 12:42h, 02 July Reply

    Thank you Philip!

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