Are you proud to be a Canadian?
In the weeks since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, the news stories coming out of the U.S. have been… alarming, to say the least. See also: racist, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, transphobic, dangerous, destructive, I could go on.
The response from those who oppose Trump has been massive. The Women’s March saw millions of people all over the world protesting. The #MuslimBan brought yet another round of protests and activism. Congressman and senators seem to be getting more phone calls, letters and emails than ever before. And Twitter, well, Twitter always has something new to be outraged by.
Many Canadians have participated in the outrage against Trump. They’ve done what they can to fight back, participating in Women’s Marches here in Canada, and donating to Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Many Canadians have also read the news coming out of the States and responded by saying: “I’m proud to be Canadian.”
For those proud Canadians, I have a question for you: Are you proud because your country has done something positive and impactful, or are you proud because your country isn’t doing something negative?
Only one of those options is a good reason to be proud. And it’s not the latter.
Do everything you can to stand against America’s new policies, and against Trump.
But. Remember this too.
America falling apart doesn’t all of the sudden make Canada perfect.
America going over the edge doesn’t mean we don’t still have work to do here in Canada.
It means we have even more work to do.
I want to encourage you to use the American disaster to take a hard look at Canada. Despite our rosy coloured glasses, Canada is by no means perfect. For one, look at how we treat the Aboriginal population. Months after the suicide crisis in Attawapiskat, the government still hadn’t placed permanent mental health workers in the community. The government refused to provide mental health funding to a Saskatchewan First Nations reserve, leading to the death of two teenagers. Boiled water advisories exist on many reserves, for years, or even decades.
And it’s not just in our treatment of the Aboriginal population that Canada is imperfect. Did you know that until recently, if you lived on Prince Edward Island and wanted an abortion, you had to leave the province? Canada’s police forces engage in racial profiling. Polls have found that 25% of Canadians agree with Trump’s #MuslimBan. Harper tried to ban the niqab from citizenship ceremonies, and implemented a barbaric practices hotline. And have you heard of Kellie Leitch or Kevin O’Leary, two candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party? They actually have supporters.
It’s easy to get caught up in the political action and unrest taking place in the U.S., because we hear about it every day. We see outrage and action taking place south of the border, whether in our newspapers, our TV news, or through social media. Canadians have become so caught up in the image of our country being multicultural, open, diverse, friendly, polite, and a peacemaker that we often fail to see when we are not fulfilling those principles.
Keep an eye on what is happening south of the border, sure. Read about it, be outraged by it, take action if you wish. But don’t forget to keep an eye on what is happening within our own borders as well. Pay attention. Ask questions. Stand up for what you believe.
Our own country needs our attention, our outrage, our voices, and our actions too.
Let’s make sure we have real reasons to be proud.