That Canada Day parade *sniff*

Canada Day junior style

Yesterday was my first Canada Day parade. As a general rule, if a large crowd is gathering, I head off in the other direction. (The road less travelled, right?) But, not taking the two year old to see fire trucks just seemed wrong. So, we went. And I was glad to be wearing big sunglasses, so I could keep my crying to myself.

Who cries at parades? Yep. Me.

I was a bag of mush pretty much before the RCMP and Stat’limx Tribal Police in dress uniform and gloves (hot! so hot!) came into view, but when I saw the beautiful Lil’wat Nation reps in their regalia right behind, it was all over for me.

The fire trucks, ambulances and Search and Rescue truck and boat gave me a chance to catch my breath, but when the wave of families in traditional costumes (from kilts/tartan leggings to kimonos) descended behind the Pemberton Multicultural Network banner, followed by the BMX posse, the backcountry horsemen and the karate kids, I was an absolute goner.

Backcountry horsemenof bc

I cried, I think, because I need to believe that we really can all walk together, whatever our differences, and because I believe it takes such great courage to stand for something – to stand in public/in a dress uniform/in the heat of the day – or to make the effort to decorate your boat (Pemberton Fish Finder!), or make up a float.

It takes no courage at all to “like” something on facebook, even though sometimes even that gives me pause (what if the government is watching?)

But to walk down the main street of town and say, hey, this is who I am and this is what I want to celebrate? That moves me so much… I suspect, because I feel safer on the sidelines, where I can heckle or judge from a safe distance, or hide my weepy eyes behind big dark glasses.

People making an effort… making a difference… making this place somewhere I am so grateful to call home… well, *sob*..

Shane Koyczan posted something important on his Facebook page yesterday, that was doing the rounds, and I think it’s worth sharing and it’s worth saying — let’s get political, let’s stand for the country we believe in.

But before the outrage returns, I just want to hang on to this moment a bit longer, in which I feel so lucky to have landed here, in this community, full of people with pride – in their traditions, their associations, their passions and their home town.

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Every year around May, I start to get inundated with requests to perform “We Are More” for Canada Day.

When I originally performed it for the Olympics I felt comfortable because we had not yet strayed so far down this dark path we now find ourselves on. Also the opportunity to perform on a world stage was just too huge to pass up.

The problem I have now is that I can’t firmly stand behind the poem saying things like “We are an experiment going right for a change.” The awful truth is that our cultural identity is undergoing radical plastic surgery, and I’m not sure what country I’m looking at anymore. A country that labels Canadians as second class citizens. A country that kills its research and gags its scientists. A country that refuses to take a serious look into missing aboriginals despite being the same country that killed First Nations children in residential schools… was this nations first attempt at genocide not enough?

It’s a ridiculous world we live in where we are born within a set of imaginary lines, and that life within those borders is then what defines us to everyone else living inside a different set of imaginary lines. I feel very fortunate to have been born Canadian, but to truly call myself one requires that I participate in making the country a good place. The Canada we have now is run by criminals and big business. Politicians who have the power to vote up their own salaries. Parties who cut social programs, but spend millions of tax dollars on partisan ads trying to convince us that they’re doing a good job.

We are not “going right for a change”… we are going terribly wrong. I can’t participate by offering a poem that suggests everything is okay… it isn’t. I will participate by saying that we can do better, and that the standards we place on those we elect need to be elevated.

A poem and some fireworks won’t fix what’s wrong with our country. By all means, spend time with your friends and family. Enjoy the festivities and be proud, but please remember that we have work to do… change does not manifest without our participation. My Canada Day will be at the next election. ~ Shane Koyczan

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