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A reflective Canada Day

On June 21,2021, Canada’s oath of citizenship changed. As suggested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the oath now reflects the land into which we all immigrated.

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Duleepa Wijayawardhana

June 30, 2021

On June 21,2021, Canada’s oath of citizenship changed. As suggested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the oath now reflects the land into which we all immigrated. For those who have never had to give the oath here it is:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

It took a while, but I am glad to see these changes finally happen. The First Nations were pretty much absent from my own immigrant experience and I am sad to say it was only through mistakes and missteps, and finally by searching for an education that I learned of Canada’s past. While I try to live my life without regrets, I will admit I wish my knowledge had been more complete as an immigrant Canadian, I know I would have lessened the hurt I caused through ignorance.

These past few months, years and decades have seen revelation upon revelation of our past culminating, but likely not ending, with the various discoveries on the grounds of former resident schools. Many of my friends know of my love for Canada Day. That has not changed and will never change. For me Canada Day is not about the founding of Canada but instead a day to celebrate y/our vision of our country. When I did My Canada Project everyone I interviewed had a different vision of Canada and what Canada meant to them. Take a moment to read some of them, there are people from all walks of life.

Reflecting on what our country means to each of its peoples is a deservedly excellent way for each of us to spend this Canada Day. The injustices heaped upon generations of First Nations, to racially-motivated violence against muslim Canadians are just two of the many ways our country needs work. I personally support any community that suggests reducing their Canada Day celebrations this year. I do not think that we are in a “cancel” culture, nor does this mean I feel ashamed of Canada.

In fact, I would say I am even more invested in my country now than ever before; I am prouder than ever before that we will confront history and change the future. A great society/person learns from the past, accepts and acknowledges our mistakes but never lives in the past. I would be ashamed if we swept all this under a nationalistic rug. I would be ashamed if we did not finally enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

So yes, Happy Canada Day, may this time of reflection lead to a greater, stronger Canada, one which reflects and lifts up all its peoples. On this Canada Day, take a moment to wave our flags and, along with many new Canadians, affirm our new oath of citizenship. It, like the country, is not perfect, it never will be, but through hard work, we can all make it better with every line we change, every person we encounter and every action we choose to take.

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