July 1 is a special day for many people around the world. For example in Singapore, today is Armed Forces Day. Pakistan marks this day as Children’s Day. The nation of Burundi celebrates its independence on July 1, and in Australia and New Zealand, today marks international Tartan Day, which makes for a colourful holiday to be sure. And of course, we must not forget that July 1 is also Creative Ice Cream Flavours Day, so now’s the time to break out that Zucchini Almond Ripple recipe you’ve been dying to try.

As I am a loud and proud citizen of the True North Strong and Free, on July 1 we mark the birthday of this big glorious mess we call Canadia-Land. At 150 years old, (though truthfully, she doesn’t look a day over 110) this country of mine is as beautiful as ever, from the 49th parallel to the Arctic circle, from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Here are a few awesome and absolutely true facts about this country I love so much:

  • The world’s first UFO landing pad was built in 1967 in St. Paul, Alberta. Hospitality – it’s the Canadian way.
  • 77% of the world’s supply of maples syrup is made in Quebec. 45% of that is consumed in my house.
  • There is a town in Quebec called “Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!.” Because reasons.
  • Canadians invented the electric wheelchair, IMAX, Trivial Pursuit and the Tilley hat. Clever Canucks are we.
  • Canadians can write to Santa at the North Pole and get a reply. Deal with it.
  • Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling. You’re welcome. Consider them an apology for Justin Bieber.

Of course, like any country, mine mine is far from a perfect one. We’ve made (and continue to make) many mistakes, and still have far to go to live up to the utopias envisioned by poets and dreamers. I do my best to remain circumspect whenever the subject of patriotism rears is colourful head. I am all too aware of the injustices inflicted on our indigenous peoples, our on-again, off-again relationship with environmental stewardship and a Prime Minister who I fear, has confused photo ops and bold statements with actual progress to resolution.

Side note to our illustrious leader: “Monsieur Trudeau, it’s fantastic to SAY you’re a feminist at ever opportunity, but you must also BE one as well. Standing with women, environmentalists and the LGBTQ community are powerful gestures, but they are only that – gestures. The real change happens outside of the glare of the media, social or otherwise.”

All of that said, this is my country, and living here means I play an active role in making it a better place in whatever small way I can. From my vote and the way I interact with my natural environment, to the way in which I treat my fellow citizens, my actions (and inactions) are a vital part of the tapestry that is the Great White North.

So whatever July 1 means for you, whether it’s filled with tartan, independence celebrations or weird ice cream flavours, I hope that it’s a positive one that points you to a better future.

I am Canadian. Je suis Canadien. Loud and proud!

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