To be Canadian

Hazel McCallion Senior Public School
Mississauga, Ontario

By Travis E. (Grade 7)

What is a Canadian citizen? The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada defines the meaning of Canadian citizenship as follows: Citizenship means working together with all other Canadians to build a stronger Canada, and making sure our values, dreams and goals are reflected in our institutions, laws and relations with one another. A Canadian can be anyone in our society who shares common beliefs about tolerance, equality, respect, and team work. These are the very links that bind our Canadian society together. This has all been crucial to our success in the past and our hopes and dreams for the future. We should be proud of who we are, where we come from, and the life we live as we prepare to enter the 21st century.

What is wrong with Canada? The number one problem, Canadians agree, is taxes are overwhelming. Sales tax, income tax, property tax, land transfer tax and many others deplete your pockets of hard earned cash. True, some of our money has been wasted by poor management of our governments, yet most of it goes towards schooling, social programs, health care and welfare which Canadians cannot live without.

A less political, but nonetheless important, issue would be our climate. Many Americans state our winters are too long and cold. They consider Canada "in the Arctic" but it comes down to a matter of opinion. Most Canadians enjoy having four seasons. Picture having Christmas on a hot summer day, no snow in sight while decorating palm trees. Sounds alien to us, but to our American friends it's a way of life. Our climate distinguishes us from our neighbours.

The political issue constantly brought up is "Unity in Canada". We are the second largest country in the world with only the 31st highest population. Compared to the US, we have 24 people per hectare while they have 234. It is said that it is hard to develop unity in Canada because we are so large with differing landscapes, contrasting climates, small population and many miles to span. But it's this very mixture that makes us unique and defines "Canada" as we know it. In the midst of diversity, we have unity.

We, as Canadians, believe all people have basic human rights and the right to live with dignity. We have made ourselves an enviable nation world-wide. Surveys rank Canada the number one country to live in, in the world. Canada is known for taking good care of that part of our society which is not able to live with dignity without a helping hand. We believe in the equality of our citizens and that's why certain programs have been instituted such as universal health care, public education, parks, and recreation facilities, welfare and child tax credits. We also provide foreign aid around the world through agencies like the United Nations.

Team work in Canada is what builds our communities so strong and strengthens our spirit. Canadians have been known for their tireless efforts within the country. A good example would be the Quebec and Manitoba floods where everyone pitched in to help with food drives, fund raisers and clean up. Another example is the rally in Quebec to keep Quebec in Confederation. Canadians attended the mass rally in Quebec to show them that the rest of Canada cares. Our pioneers depended on each other for survival and we continue to rely on one another to create a nation in which all Canadians can be proud of.

Canadian achievements represent the determination Canadians have. Canada has produced outstanding people who have been recognized throughout world such as: Frederick Banting, Nobel prize winner for inventing insulin; Roberta Bondar, first women in space; Celine Dion, singer extraodinaire; The Group of Seven, outstanding artists; Donovan Bailey, fastest man in the world; and our team of scientists at Spar Aerospace who created the Canadarm for the space shuttle. Our pride in each others achievements continues to unite all of Canada.

Arthur Schlesinger, a great historian, once said, "A country will be measured in the eyes of posterity not by its economic power, nor by its military might, but by its character and achievement as a civilization." If this is how we will be rated then Canada should do well. As Jean Chretien says, "Canada was formed by a nation who dared to dream" and it is this vision which will lead Canada into the new millennium.

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