What's it mean for those of us born in this country?
I think it means a lot of taking Canada for granted.
Taking for granted the space, the wide open country with miles between places and people sometimes.
Taking for granted the clean air, clean rivers and lakes, clean streets...although truth be told, it's not quite as clean as it used to be.
Taking for granted the freedom to say what we want, within reason.
Many things that we take for granted are valued and treasured by people who are new to our country. Like Sisheema...I met her today at our Canada Day celebrations at the Tourist Information Center along the banks of the creek. I gave her a chocolate cuppycake, iced with white frosting and embedded with multi-coloured sprinkles, I wished her Happy Canada Day, and she told me that she was new to Canada! She's only been here 3 days. Travelling from Kenya in Africa, she has arrived as a nanny for a family who lives across the street from me.
We talked over our cuppycakes, and she confided to me that she is already homesick...she misses her family and although this is a new and exciting experience for her, it is a struggle at times. I said that my doctor is from South Africa...Johannesburg, actually...and he always tells me that Canada is so sterile to him. In Africa, he tells me, there are so many different sounds, smells, colours, so much activity and so many people everywhere. Here in Canada, for him it is so much quieter, so much less activity and so much more empty space than where he comes from.
After she left my table, I thought about what it means to me, being born here and having lived here all my life. I don't have the answer yet. It made me think, though...about what I take for granted. There's a lot of that, I think. I know that we are blessed, I know that we are the luckiest of the lucky. What I don't know is what it would be like to not have this kind of blessedness...to feel fear all of the time, to sleep with one eye open and weapons by one's side. I can tell you without hesitation, I cannot imagine that kind of unsurety.
Having said that, I can imagine a little what leaving here would feel like. Every time I leave this country to travel on vacation to another place, I feel the tears welling in my eyes as we fly out of Canadian air space. When I am returning, it is always an emotional time when I see the coast of Canada pass underneath the plane and I know that I'm home again!
A good day today...hot, sunny, cool breeze at times...loads of tourists and their kids, local residents and their kids. A day filled with music by HOJA!, the sounds of the kids playing games, the smell of the BBQ roasting burgers and smokies and the feeling of family among those of us who have known each other for years.
A good day, today.
A good day.