At a time when a narrative of guilt is being pushed, it is important to acknowledge the full picture of who Canadians are and what our country represents.
There is a fine line between acknowledging imperfection/past mistakes, and going into a spiral of negativity that presents a one-sided and unrealistic picture of a nation and a people.
In Canada, many of our leaders have completely crossed that line, so dramatically so that they can’t even see it anymore.
Jagmeet Singh has done so most dramatically, in a fear-mongering speech laced with an absolutely brutal vision of Canada:
“Our Canada is a place where you can’t walk down the streets if you wear a hijab because you will be killed—this is our Canada. We can’t deny it,” says Jagmeet Singh re: London attack.
“How many more families will be killed before we do something?” the NDP leader asks.”
"Our Canada is a place where you can't walk down the streets if you wear a hijab because you will be killed—this is our Canada. We can't deny it," says Jagmeet Singh re: London attack.
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) June 8, 2021
At a moment like this, there is often a reluctance to push back against this negativity.
And yet, that is exactly what we need to do.
The idea that all of Canada should be denounced, or that the vast majority of people in Canada should somehow feel responsible for the actions of one person is absurd, and also dangerous.
It’s dangerous because it is deeply detrimental on a mental level to hold people responsible for things they can’t control, and pushing an unfair sense of guilt on innocent people is fundamentally unjust.
So, as many of our ‘leaders’ and much of the media is pushing a narrative of negativity, here are 7 reasons Canadians can be proud of who we are.
1) We took a stand against slavery
While slavery was ongoing in the United States, between 30,000 – 40,000 people escaped to freedom here in Canada (British North America at the time).
As noted in the Canadian Encyclopedia, “The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America.”
2) Canadians of all backgrounds get along everyday, and think nothing of it
I’m not talking here about the image of political correctness or some naïve ‘kumbaya’ thing, but rather the fact that the vast majority of Canadians are good people who judge others as individuals based on their actions.
At this very moment across our country, people of different backgrounds are interacting (perhaps less so lately with all the restrictions of course), and treating each other with mutual respect.
Of course, this is the default for most people in Canada, because most people in Canada are good, decent people without hate in their hearts.
The number of actual extremists or racists in Canada is quite low, which is why our country is always shocked when hateful incidents take place. If hate and racism was the norm, people wouldn’t be shocked by it.
3) Tens of thousands of Canadians died to defeat fascism
While some try to retcon Canada’s past as nothing but oppression, and label anyone they disagree with as ‘fascist’ or worse, the reality is that tens of thousands of Canadians died to defeat fascism.
In World War Two alone, about 45,400 Canadians died fighting for the Allies against the Axis powers.
In parts of Europe, there are still commemorations for the Canadian soldiers who liberated territory held by fascist Germany.
So, while some try to demonize Canadian history, or falsely claim we are ‘nation of peacekeepers,’ the reality is that our history is one of taking up arms to defend our values of freedom, and stand against fascist nations.
4) Canada stood strong against the Soviet Union and Communism
Another aspect of history that is often either downplayed or ignored is the true depths of the brutality of the Soviet Union and Communism overall.
Estimates for killings by the Soviet Union of innocent civilians (mostly their own citizens), range widely, from 6 million at the low end, to over 60 million at the high end.
Of course, when you start your ‘low-range’ estimate in the millions, you can be sure things are already horrific. Notably, we are talking about deliberate, state-ordered killings and deliberate mass-murder.
In Communist China, estimates for deaths under the ‘Great Leap Forward,’ a combo of murder and famine, range from about 15 million to 55 million, in just a four year span.
The death toll of Communism far exceeds that of even the most brutal fascist regimes.
And while many would like you to forget it, for much of our history, Canada stood strong with our Western allies against the Soviet Union.
When South Korea was on the brink of total defeat at the hands of Communist North Korea (the south being reduced to one port city), the United States, Canada, and other nations intervened, pushing the North back and helping save South Korea.
Considering that massive deaths and repression that still exists in North Korea today, by saving South Korea, Canada helped save millions of lives and save millions more from a horrendous fate.
During the Cold War, Canada made strong contributions to the NATO alliance as part of the deterrent force in Europe to dissuade a USSR invasion.
While Pierre Trudeau was a big Communist sympathizer (like father, like son perhaps), most Canadians did not share that perspective, and for much of our history we were a strong part of the bulwark against Communist expansion.
5) Canadians acknowledge our mistakes, and we seek to improve
Lost in the current demonization of Canada is the fact that while – like every nation – our country has made mistakes – we are more willing to acknowledge those mistakes than most, and we seek to improve.
Consider that in the debate over statues of individuals involved in the Residential School system, few – if any – Canadians are actually defending the Residential Schools themselves.
There is widespread agreement that the schools were wrong, and the differences on the issue of statues revolves around whether we should keep them up and acknowledge the good and the bad of historical figures, or – as some want – we should take all of them down, which I feel would be a mistake.
Yet, that debate can obscure the fact that a clear majority of Canadians want to see things improve for Indigenous People, and differences on how to achieve that should not be confused for opposition to the goal itself.
6) Canadians are willing to elect people based on their ideas, not backgrounds
While Jagmeet Singh spreads a negative narrative about Canada, the fact that he is in the House of Commons and is the leader of an official political party goes against much of what he claims.
There are few countries where someone who is an ethnic and religious minority could rise to such a position, and that’s because Canada is a nation where most people focus on the ideas and individual actions of others, rather than simply judging based on people’s backgrounds. If Canada was truly a racist and oppressive nation, Jagmeet Singh would never have had a political career at all.
7) Canadians have a strong moral sense of justice
While focusing on division is the popular thing these days, the fact is that many Canadians are unified on some of the biggest issues facing the world.
Consider the attitude of Canadians towards Communist China, with over 80% now holding a negative view of that country.
It isn’t some sort of ‘anti-Chinese’ sentiment as the CCP or Justin Trudeau claim, rather the increase in negative views of China coincides precisely with China’s increasingly aggression towards other countries, their kidnapping of two Canadian Citizens, and the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
If Canadians didn’t have a shared sense of moral values, then we wouldn’t be outraged by what’s happening in China.
But, to the contrary, Canadians of all political backgrounds have expressed a serious revulsion to the actions of the Chinese Communist Party.
What this shows is that the same sense of values that led Canada to stand against fascism and communism still exists. Canadians still stand for something. And what we stand for – in our best moments – is freedom and human rights.
Canadians should feel pride in our country, not guilt
For all the reasons listed above, you as a Canadian have every right to feel proud of our country, and to feel proud to be Canadian.
And that pride isn’t about ignoring the past, but rather having a nuanced and balanced view of it, refusing to throw out all the good that Canada and Canadians have achieved.
In this moment of negative and unfair demonization of Canada and Canadians, some positivity and perspective is sorely needed.