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Happy Canada Day

Canada is celebrating a special birthday this weekend. I was invited this week to be a ‘roaming storyteller’ who would tell my immigrant story to a group of new Canadian citizens after their special Canada 150 ceremony today (July 1). I received the invitation too late to participate, so I passed on the opportunity.

After I told one of my colleagues about the event, she said it would’ve been a great idea if I had gone to welcome the new citizens and tell them my story. She said welcoming people onto the land (Canada) is a tradition that is deeply rooted in her (Anishnaabe) culture. Although I have known her for years, I didn’t know she is part First Nations (or Indigenous), and I had never heard the name Anishnaabe before.

We discussed the holiday and the fact that not everyone in Canada is celebrating the 150th birthday, including many in the Indigenous community who feel they have been left out of the discourse. She proceeded to give me a brief lesson about her culture, and it was an interesting one.

She explained that one core aspect of Anishnaabe belief is the seven fires prophecy which foretold the coming of people from around the world. Each fire represents a pivotal point in the Anishnaabe quest for what is simply referred to as ‘the good life’, or a life of peace and harmony.

She was taught that Anishnaabe welcome all because during the time of the seventh fire Anishnaabe people’s role is to teach others how to live in harmony on this land together. If successful, the eighth and final fire will be lit, marking the beginning of the good life.

That’s a summary of our discussion, so blame me if all the facts don’t align when you begin your research. But, it was a very educational moment for me. It takes all of us to make Canada what it is, and what it will become. As we celebrate its 150th birthday, let us remember the innumerable contributions of Peoples from a diverse cultural mosaic, and appreciate our differences.

I am proud of my Jamaican heritage, and I am equally proud to be a Canadian citizen and call Canada my home. Every year, a few days before the July 1st holiday, I fly a Canadian flag on my vehicle, and stick others in my hanging flower baskets. This year is no different. If you look closely at the photo below you’ll see a Canadian flag in the hanging basket, alongside a Jamaican one. They are together for a reason – an appreciation of two cultures.

Enjoy your Canada Day Long Weekend, and let us never take this country for granted, despite its imperfections.

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