This is our life. No dress rehearsal.

A Canada Day Letter to my Godchild for her 25th Birthday

A letter to Rosalind born on the 150th anniversary of Canada looking towards her 25th birthday and our 175th anniversary.

My Canada Project

Duleepa Wijayawardhana

June 28, 2017

Dear Rosalind Clare,

You are less than two weeks old as we all “celebrate”, “mark” or otherwise “notice” the passing of a milestone Canada Day. To your parents, your arrival is, and must be, a much more important milestone. Nevertheless, the two have coincided.

This letter speaks of “you” both in the singular but also in the plural. “You” are the child of my best friends, but “you” are all the children, almost 400,000, who will be born to families across Canada this year. I hope that you will remember this not as a letter defining you as a singular individual but one of many, a great and significant cohort. At the same time, I want you, each of you, to never be so humble as to believe you are but a single whisper in the forest.

This letter speaks of “I”, but in fact it is a “we”. I will be bold and presumptuous to speak for many of my generation, those in their late thirties, forties and early fifties, like your parents, who are now inheriting the mantles of power in this country: socio-political, business and media. Our decisions and actions will weigh heavily on what you will experience when you come of age and read this.

Dear Rosalind, I do not know what your world looks like now, I can barely imagine it, but I will try. In 5 years you will be playing on toys using just your voice, interactive screens while addressing interactive characters. In 10 years, your world will be filled with smart cars, smart roads, smart planes and hopefully smart energy. In 15 years, you will be teaching me about the next computer-human interface while I still struggle to use a mouse on an old computer system. In 20 years, you will be in some form of higher education learning about people, places and sciences, some of which I will just not understand. In 25 years, you will be setting out on your adventures, will it be to the stars? Will it be to Mars? Will you be able to traverse the continent in mere hours on Hyperloop trains?

Dear Rosalind, with you we give our hopes and for those religious, we give our prayers, that you will learn from our successes and our mistakes. The country you inherit today is great at pretending to be together, but underneath great divisions are set to surface. We have succeeded over these past 50 years to create, perhaps achingly slowly for some, a more inclusive, more open Canada; one which seeks to redress the past as well as define a new future. You are now part of that future and so much more needs to be done. As I write this, we have only now started talking to, about, and learning from our First Nations, one of the founding pillars of our country.

Dear Rosalind, will you be able to learn Mohawk, Inuit or another First Nations language? Will you finally be able to cross the country and know whose land you are actually crossing? Will your Canadian history include the history of all of Canada and how we all came to be stuck here on this hunk of rock with no place else to go? Will your school have people now being born to Syrian refugees graduating and teaching you about their ancient culture?

Dear Rosalind, when I see your father and mother hold you, I know that they are going to bring you up in love surrounded by so much that many in the world still can’t imagine. Will you get to truly satisfy human social craving and interact with children and people in real time from other cultures so that we can finally create a pan-human civilization? Will Canada shy away from our global human responsibilities or will we boldly walk forth with your voices at the head?

Dear Rosalind, what is the air like that you breathe? Have we succeeded in reducing emissions and given humanity a fighting chance to have an era as plentiful, peaceful and as abundant as what we have today? Can you go to the Rockies to see the great Athabasca glacier? Will you be standing so far away from the glacier tongue on a line that says “here was the edge in July 2017 when Canada celebrated 150” but the actual edge is a kilometre or more of walking?

Dear Rosalind, have you kept us to our promises to provide those that come after us a better place than what they were born in to? Are you finally treated equal in our society despite being female? Have you made sure that we are not failing you? Your parents, your godparents, your teachers, your leaders, none of us are perfect. We hope that you will be among the millions that will speak and say, “This is not where we need to be going!” Forgive us our inadequacies and learn to show us the way forward.

Dear Rosalind and the 400,000 of 2017, I wish you a Happy Canada Day in 25 years. I hope we have made you proud.

With all my love, your Godfather, Dups

This is part of the “This is my Canada Project”. Throughout 2017, to mark Canada’s 150th, I posted answers to questions about Canada from all sorts of people. This is now a time capsule of our 150th year and how we have progressed since then.

Unless otherwise noted, everything you see here (words, photos, drawings, ideas) belong to Duleepa Wijayawardhana.
Opinions expressed belong to Duleepa Wijayawardhana and never one of his current or former employers.

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