July 7 WEEKENDER: Second Opinion – To be Canadian

Canada Day celebrations were dampened this year in many towns and cities across B.C.

Grand Forks WEEKENDER columnist Jim Holtz

Grand Forks WEEKENDER columnist Jim Holtz

Canada Day celebrations were dampened this year in many towns and cities across B.C.

High water, floods, rain and cool temperatures caused many families to cancel or alter holiday plans but while the nature of the celebration of Canada’s annual day may have been disrupted by circumstance, the spirit that it generated seemed to be intact everywhere.

It is in fact, hard not to feel good about this country; it is a terrific place to live. We are an industrious and remarkably self-reliant bunch, regarded by most of the international community as being generous, thoughtful, self-effacing and gracious.  Off the ice at least.

We have been shaped by the environment and by our heritage, of course.

Self-reliance was a necessity throughout our past and it continues to be so today in a country as thinly populated and robust as this one.

Some people worry about the large number of immigrants that are coming to Canada; they worry that the influx of people with varied backgrounds, religions, and cultural differences will somehow change the nature of the country. They needn’t worry.

The land that tested so many other immigrants over the last three centuries, and forged the spirit and temperament of our First Nations people for thousands of years before that, will work its magic on the new immigrants as well.

Some will stay in the major urban centres, of course, and the energy and ideas they bring will enrich the social fabric of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and other cities.

But many won’t; they will travel north or east or west, away from the urban centres into rural Canada and discover that their adopted land is indeed a place of not only remarkable beauty and variety, but a place that both inspires and energizes, motivates and mesmerizes.

They will discover in every town, village and unincorporated outpost across the land, generations of men and women who came before them to find an identity for themselves, not in the crowded, concrete confines of the city, but in the open spaces, where the sky is part of the landscape, where the stars are visible at night, or where the smell and sound of the ocean is ever present.

They will notice that, unlike the major cities, there aren’t many mansions in rural areas, not many of those opulent testaments to the wealth and power of their owners, those showcases of human achievement.

Not that there aren’t quite a few farmers and ranchers who could afford to build one. But first they would have to sell their land, and who wants to do that?

Jim Holtz is columnist for the WEEKENDER and former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette