Canada celebrated its 152nd birthday on Monday and thousands of Cochranites shared in the nationwide festivities.
We are lucky to live in a truly amazing country and though it's not without its problems, we should take the time to reflect on what makes Canada a truly amazing place to live.
Among the 156 countries surveyed annually, the 2019 World Happiness Report – which records citizens' perceptions of how happy they are on a range of indicators – ranked Canada ninth. In comparison, the United States ranked in 19th place. Anyone who wants to look at the in-depth report can find it here: https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/.
While it's great to see Canada ranked so high compared to other nations in the world, it is more valuable to reflect on why each of us appreciate being Canadian.
Here in Cochrane, we can see one of our nation's most amazing resources – wilderness areas. We are surrounded by provincial and national parks and open natural spaces which are indicative of Canada as a whole. This nation comprises 40 per cent of North America and more than 80 per cent of the country is uninhabited. With such open territory, we have a level of access to nature and wildlife that the rest of the world does not.
Earlier this month, the Cochrane Eagle attended a citizenship ceremony at RancheView School and witnessed firsthand another trait Canadians are renowned for around the world – it's welcoming spirit. To much fanfare, students and the community welcomed 50 new citizens, hailing from around the world, to Canada. It was one of the hundreds of such ceremonies held across the nation each year. Following that ceremony, a family from Iran commented on how the friendliness and helpfulness of Canadians they had heard about before coming here was no myth and something they have appreciated over the past five years.
According to the 2019 Global Peace Index, Canada ranked the 5th most peaceful place to live out of 163 nations, partly due to the many freedoms we have and our willingness to welcome people to be part of our great nation.
That leads us to our freedoms. Canadians enjoy one of the freest societies in the world. People are free to love and marry who they choose, practise their religions, criticize their government, participate in free democracy, live, work and travel across the country, and, for the most part, we live in harmony as a multi-cultural society.
While we recognize there are issues, we find most Canadians are willing to work together to resolve them. From addressing reconciliation with Indigenous people – as illustrated by a learning project between the Town of Cochrane, Rotary Club of Cochrane and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation – to helping refugees settle and adapt as many Cochranites have assisted with over the past few years.
It is vital that all Canadians work to maintain and protect the values that make our nation what it is and remember we have achieved this with the help of a diverse group of people working together with the same goal of living in a peaceful, welcoming and accepting society.