By Rhonda Massad
2017 is the year that Canada marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation. Does it matter that I can’t pronounce the word sesquicentennial? Not really because in Canada we are a forgiving sort and we will all have a chuckle over it.
I can remember sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ upper duplex apartment in St. Laurent watching the tears fall from my Jido’s eyes as he watched his homeland being torn apart by war. It made me anxious, but as a young child, I did not understand what was happening except that it made my grandparents upset. I can’t imagine moving from my native land in an effort to find a safe haven. To leave what you know and love because it is the safest thing to do. I can’t even imagine moving from my home for any reason. It’s my home. As Canadians, we know we never have to face that kind of upheaval. Many of our forefathers left their homes never to return. Often leaving their parents and siblings never to see them again.
Both my parents were born in Canada but come from very diverse backgrounds. One set of grandparents came from London, England serving in the Navy in both World Wars and one set came from war-torn Lebanon in 1918. One thing they shared was the dream of a better life for their families. Their sacrifice has not gone unnoted on my behalf. They came so I could live a happy, peaceful life and raise my children without fear of politically driven violence. I think that same diversity in my family made my parents accepting of all races and religions. Their doors are always open no matter what. Much like Canada. It is a wonderful way to grow up.
If I could describe Canada in a few words the first one that would come to mind is “safe”. There is a feeling of safety living in a country that is known for peacekeeping. Though there may be change afoot, I firmly believe it is fundamentally who we are and that is not going to waver no matter what government is elected.
The West Island Blog and Canada 150 Community Leader Rhonda Massad gathered some of West Island’s community friends to share what Canada means to them.
Another word would be “polite”. People joke about Canada because we are known to be polite. Though it is a little exaggerated, I think we hold ourselves to a high standard that has us fit our stereotype. It serves us well when we travel since we are welcomed pretty much anywhere with open borders.
I searched the internet for words to describe Canadians. This is what popped up: hockey, tolerance, kindness, peace, maple, snow and acceptance. Many other words can be used to describe who we are and where we live, all of them are words we can be proud of.
Tell me in one word or in 150 words what Canada means to you in this year of celebration.