Today, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am going to pause to do something very un-Canadian – give thanks for Canada.
I’m thankful to the three nations who founded this country – the First, the French, and the English.
I’m thankful to the millions of people who came to this land from virtually every nation on the face of the earth seeking something they couldn’t find in their homelands, and thankful that most of them found it.
I’m thankful for the relative youth of our nation. While we have much to resolve, we also have much to discover, and the future beckons as to an adolescent full of promise and a yeasty stirring and mystery.
I’m thankful for the national character we’ve all helped to create – civil, compassionate, and cooperative.
I’m thankful that we have yet to define the Canadian identity. Its very elusiveness makes us a questing, unfinished people, still in a state of becoming.
I’m even thankful for the unending friction between Quebec and English Canada – a conflict that is, if we but knew it, deeply imbedded in our history and in our souls, and that is unending and irresolvable.
I’m thankful for the diversity of our people, for the cacophony of our languages, the commingling of our cultures, the contrasting colors of our skins.
I’m thankful for the vast land we are so blessed to inhabit – endless in expanse, variety and promise.
I’m thankful for the great rivers that were our first, natural highways, coursing through the Shield and prairie and mountains.
I’m thankful for the oceans that surround us on three sides, those great saline buffers that have protected us from much of the pettifogging and pugnacity of the Old Worlds to both the west and east.
I’m thankful we share this continent with the Americans. For all that they have done wrong they have also done a great deal right. We could do worse when it comes to neighbours.
I’m thankful for the rigours of our climate, which have made us a resourceful yet modest and humble people.
I’m thankful for the smell of woodsmoke and dry leaves and the taste of fresh Macintosh apples in the fall.
I’m thankful for the winter days of Arctic highs, so bracing and clear, when the distant horizon dances in beckoning, sun-burnished purity.
I’m thankful for the first, tentative green of the northern spring, when you can hear the snow melt and smell the cool, fusty richness of Mother Earth as she awakens from her long winter sleep.
I’m thankful for the chill, mysterious depths of a northern lake on a hot summer day.
I’m thankful for Gilles Vigneault, who wrote Mon Pay C’est L’Hiver, a song I think of often on these autumn days, and which I think should be our national anthem.
I’m thankful for all these ties that bind, that make us who and what we are.
I’m thankful to live in a nation that is truly the envy of the world.
I’m thankful to Canada, and to be a Canadian.