Happy Canada Day!! What Does it Mean to You?

Posted by Ben Gross on July 3, 2014

Last Thursday I spent the morning working with a group of educators in Hamilton, exploring a Facing History pathway through the new Ontario Grade 10 Canadian History curriculum. It was a morning full of rich conversation and learning about both Canada’s history and its present, and how they inform each other. We began the morning with an activity using poetry to discuss the first step of the Facing History and Ourselves Journey: Identity. We talked a lot about what it meant to be Canadian in the past and what it means to be Canadian today. How have we changed? How have we remained the same? Who are the individuals that make up "we"?

On Canada Day, Cmdr. Chris Hadfield and his brother set out to make “the most Canadian Music Video Ever” and share what they think it means to be Canadian.

I watched this video sitting beside a swimming pool with a plate of BBQ and a cold drink in my hands, surrounded by good friends. It left me thinking about what it means to me to identify myself as Canadian.

For me, being Canadian means appreciating and respecting the good things that I have in my life - the right to vote, to express my opinion, to travel freely, to live without fear, and just generally live as good of a life as I can. My love of my country means that I expect more of it than it currently is. Canada is not a perfect country now, nor do we have a pristine past. As recent articles featuring the policy of deliberate starvation of Indigenous Peoples by our first Prime Minister, Sir John A Macdonald, or the even more recent Supreme Court ruling in British Columbia on land claims rights, Canada, and Canadians, are beginning to come to grips with how we actually came to be (though many have been living with the consequences for generations) - and who suffered so that many of us could have a backyard BBQ today. To me, being Canadian means understanding that we don't have it all figured out, and that as long as we continue to try to understand and reconcile our past with our present, we will continue to be able to claim to live in a great and free country. As a Canadian, I am a work in progress, not a finished product.

What does it mean to you to be Canadian? How do you explore Canadian identity in your classroom? Please share in the comment section below!

Topics: Identity, History, legacy, In the news, Personal history


This is where Canadian Facing History and Ourselves teachers and community members meet to share reflections, scholarship and teaching practices that will inspire, challenge and improve teaching and student learning. Our stories provide a window into diverse Facing History classrooms in Canada, and invite you into the discussion.

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