N.B.: A Giant in the Creation of Confederation
Published in Brunswick News Inc.
July 1, 2016
Canada, eh? From Peter Puck to Captain Canuck, there’s no denying that from coast to coast to coast, we’re proud of our Canadian-ness. So, what’s this X factor that makes our nation such a great place to live? Is it because as Canadians we are known for our peacekeeping efforts? Or, because we are known for embracing and promoting linguistic and cultural diversity? Better still, is it because as Canadians, we encourage inclusive cooperation?
Canadians – whether born here or having come here from another country – share an indescribable quality, this je ne sais quoi that seems to permeate from one citizen to the next. We are committed to a deep-seated desire to collaborate and persevere – to not just tolerate our differences but to accept them and learn how to gain strength from them. Together, we hold true the values bestowed upon us by the Fathers of Confederation: freedom, social justice, and respect for diversity.
As one of the first four provinces to commit to the idea that collective social justice was a necessary quality of a great nation, New Brunswick remains a microcosm of Canadian values. Since Confederation, our province has had a long and proud history of trailblazing leadership in building Canada. From the very beginning, New Brunswick’s Father of Confederation, Sir Samuel L. Tilley, understood that a cohesive unit, through its willingness to cooperate with each other, would be much stronger than individual colonies could ever be, and that strength would be best gained through unity. Although he met with some resistance, he persevered, and his vision did, in fact, secure our place in Canada where New Brunswick has stood proud for nearly 150 years.
More visionary leaders followed in the footsteps of Tilley to further New Brunswick’s commitment and implementation of Canadian values. Whether it’s our province’s fundamental, society-changing commitment to equal opportunity, its respect for bilingualism, or its openness to new Canadians, New Brunswick has a longstanding political and social tradition of commitment to social justice. Tilley’s simple notion that together we can move our province forward is one of the greatest pillars of our inclusive society. Being part of this nation has never been about stalling on our differences and our challenges, or giving up when faced with adversity – it has been about persevering in spite of them. Our collective willingness to cooperate as well as our natural tendency to band together in times of need and to support one another during tragedies are also key elements of our collective Canadian-ness.
Canada Day is a time for celebration and appreciation of our shared accomplishments and a time to reflect on our collective future. Each year on July 1, friends, families and entire neighbourhoods come together donning their Canadian flags, face paintings and noisemakers all over New Brunswick to celebrate our country. We are proud to live in a place where we have the freedom, and desire, to shout from our rooftops our love of this nation – not only on Canada Day, but every day of the year.
Canada would not be what it is today were it not for the men and women who have fought for and protected our basic freedoms, qualities and values. We sometimes take our freedom for granted, but today is about reminding ourselves that Canada offers everyone multiple freedoms that are yet to be enjoyed in other parts of the world. For instance, today we are thankful for our freedom of expression, freedom of mobility, freedom from persecution, freedom of thought and freedom of peaceful assembly. We graciously salute the women and men who proudly serve our country to ensure that we remain free and true to these shared liberties.
As a society, we have a natural inclination to respect our neighbour’s culture. We strive to understand and appreciate the diverse cultures, customs and traditions of all citizens. Canada was born on the notion that we have something to gain from our unique cultural and regional perspectives. Our efforts to respect diversity are a decisive factor in defining our cultural mosaic as an everlasting Canadian virtue. We have learned that having multiple cultures, ethnicities and languages is not a hindrance to our Canadian-ness but rather one of the strongest components to our effervescent Canadian identity. It is what makes us Canadian. It is what makes us New Brunswickers.
In Latin, ‘carpe diem’ means, “Seize the day!” In 2017, we encourage and urge New Brunswickers to capitalize on Canada’s 150th anniversary to remind Canadians that, although we are small, we were giants in the creation of Confederation, and we continue to foster our love and patriotism for our country in both of its official languages and among many cultures, including First Nations.
So, what Canadian values do you identify with? Is it our friendliness, politeness, inclusiveness, peacefulness, openness, hopefulness, cohesiveness or our unitedness? Think about it because next year, New Brunswick will join with all other provinces and territories to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Let’s show the rest of Canada how to be proud, especially given that New Brunswick has been – and continues to be – significantly important to Canada.
New Brunswick is a founding partner of Confederation. We have committed to our collective future as a country since day one. If a Canadian… is a Canadian… is a Canadian – as we like to say – then surely a New Brunswicker… is a New Brunswicker… is a New Brunswicker. Let’s celebrate our wonderful differences and learn from each other – and then turn them into strengths. If we’re committed to doing that with understanding, respect and dedication to truly building an inclusive province, we’ll soon be making national media headlines for all the right reasons.
Patrick O’Brien and Mirelle Cyr
Co-Chairs of Dialogue NB