Remembrance Day ceremonies tend to involve a lot of thinking about Canada, its history and what the flag means.
From a historical point of view, remembering the soldiers who fought in the Great Wars of the 20th century is vital, not only from a moral perspective but to keep in mind the type of evil that can so easily take hold in the world and the sacrifice it takes to defeat it.
But from a modern point of view, what it means to be Canadian and proud of Canada isn’t so clear.
Considering the local history, we talk often about identity in the North with regards to reclaiming language, culture and ways of life. But no one is without those questions of identity, though the circumstances might be different depending on the group.
For my peer group, many of us don’t know what being Canadian means beyond citizenship.
Canada as a country lacks a real identity and defining set of values beyond stereotypes of hockey, beavers and Tim Horton’s.
There is a general camaraderie among Canadians and shared values of kindness, generosity and cooperation. What it means to be Canadian to me is more about my experience with other Canadians and less about any feelings the flag itself invokes.
Canada is a mishmash of many identities. We value multiculturalism and celebrate other people’s identities. We have strands of both the Queen’s loyalists and the American rebels. The most Canadian thing we seem internationally known for is submissively apologizing about everything.
For a young person growing up today, it’s hard to see the backbone of what being Canadian means.
Our prime minister even backs this up.
In 2015, he told The New York Times Magazine that “there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada.” He continued on, calling Canada “the world’s first post-national state.”
What would founders of our country and early pioneers of this territory think about that?
From a personal level outward, identity is crucial to knowing where we stand in the world, what our goals are and how to navigate life.
Everyone needs that moral and value-based bedrock to guide decision making.
Without it, we enter an intangible postmodernist reality where right and wrong don’t exist. Our values become subject to the moment, outside pressure or otherwise. Our ship is rudderless and at the whims of the weather.
Canada could use a reawakening of what being Canadian means.
Though some might view Trudeau’s vision of Canada as noble, it comes with the danger of opening a vacuum of identity for much worse ideas to take root.
The soldiers who saved our democratic country, its rights and freedoms during World War II no doubt had a resounding vision of what they were fighting for.
Rather than pay them respects once per year, we should carry on those ideals every day.