Dear Canada 2067:
How ya doin’, eh?
Any of you now in your sixties (as I now am) were just kids when I wrote this. You’re about as far away from 2017 as I was at your age from World War I….and that was ancient history to me.
But just in case you are remotely interested in the Canada of my lifetime, in case you have a few minutes to spare from flying your car…or from hoeing your mutated bean patch if Mr. Trump and Kim Jong-un have wrecked things with their game of nuclear chicken…, here are a few random impressions of the Canada of my lifetime.
Life seemed promising in the 1960s when as a teenager I began to pay attention to things outside my family and neighborhood. We celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday by traveling to Expo 67 in Montreal and by electing the cool Pierre Trudeau as prime minister… BTW, is Ella-Grace your P.M. now? And while we were partying, the Americans were at each other’s throats over equal rights for African-Americans and over a war in Vietnam.
For us Catholics, Vatican II “opened a few windows” in the Church. We actually stopped using Latin at our masses and people could understand what the priest was saying…although the 60’s also saw the beginning a decline in church attendance which continues through 2017. Has Latin made a comeback? Oh…and in 1967 the Leafs won the Stanley Cup.
Canada, through the luck of geography and history, has been a kind of boring place to live. But boring has its strong points. In our first seventy years we were overshadowed by Great Britain, “the Mother Country” and in our last 80 years, the Canadian Mouse has lived warily beside the American Elephant.
Since 1960 America almost tore itself apart over equality for African Americans. It was at war more often than at peace and many of its cities became armed camps. In Canada our divisions were over equalization payments, over English-speakers and French speakers getting along and over NHL expansion.
Now, this is not to say Canada has been Camelot. Since the “Sixties Scoop” and the sorry history of residential schools, Canadians have finally started to pay attention to the shameful way the majority has treated indigenous people and to try to make up for it. Linked to this growing influence of the aboriginal tradition, we are facing the ruinous effects of our rapacious approach to the natural world.
And I really hope that by 2067 you have inherited from us something besides enormous debt.
Canada was founded on the cardinal values of Peace, Order and Good Government. This is far less glamourous than Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, for sure. But it has its up side.
Maybe it’s just that the cold makes us need to huddle together but we Canadians are more willing to accommodate one other’s differences and quirks. We’re far more likely to wave a beer not a handgun at an interloper. We may sigh over having to queue up for an MRI but we’re glad someone with a more threatening condition gets prompt treatment.
Where Russia has its bear, China its dragon, Britain its lion, America its eagle, Canada has a beaver. The beaver’s a herbivore who co-operates with other beavers s-l-o-w-l-y and methodically to alter the landscape and make it comfier. Along the way it makes habitat for other creatures beside whom it lives peaceably. Boring, I know….but it gets you through the winter.
Happy 200th, Canada!