“I am Canadian!” What an honor to be able to proclaim that. I believe that we are truly blessed to be sons and daughters of this great land. We have a lot to be proud of. Say the word “Canadian” around the world, and it speaks loud about the values we hold dear: freedom, tolerance, opportunity, and so on.
Since the mid-1990s, an average of 220,000 immigrants have come into Canada every year and made it their home. Citizenship and Immigration Canada says that it has been aiming at a “long-term objective of immigration level approaching one percent of Canada’s population (annually),” so these averages will continue to increase.
Immigration has become an increasingly important component of net population growth in Canada. Statistics Canada reports that immigration represents close to 70% of current population growth. Given our nation’s below-replacement fertility rate, within 25 years immigration will be the only source of net population growth factor.
Every immigrant is needed. The facts are beginning to speak for themselves. The Conference Board of Canada stated that “Canada could experience a one million worker shortage by the year 2020, and for some sectors, shortages already exist.”
Canada Perspectives commented five years ago that “the proportion of the working-age population employed was 62.4%, the highest on record.” However, Canada is aging. The Globe and Mail’s investigation of our labour force led them to state emphatically that “the country’s labour pool is expected to shrink under the weight of an unprecedented retirement bulge….”
So, Canada has put out the welcome mat to the world.
Recently I had the honor of being asked to witness close to 60 people inducted into Canadian citizenship. Citizenship judge William L. Day presided over the proceedings, and gave a heart-felt introduction into the rights and the responsibilities that came with Canadian citizenship. Then each new candidate stood, pledged their Oath of Citizenship, and resounded a closing “I am Canadian!”
He compared citizenship to marriage, the only difference being that you are marrying 33 million people. The oath (or vow) was a promise: if each citizen kept their promise, the marriage would work well. They promised faithfulness to the Queen, obedience to the laws of Canada, and a commitment to work from within the legal system to change Canadian law.
He stated that Canada was different from most countries of the world. Most nations have law, religion, dress, and a language that distinguishes them. However, he strongly addressed the fact that Canada is a secular nation.
Interesting, eh? We are secular, multi-cultural, bilingual, a mosaic of the world’s ideas and beliefs. We are not a melting pot where people become Canadian first. That is the Canadian difference.
I am saddened by that glaring reality. Canada used to be known as a Christian nation, people pledged allegiance and swore on the Bible, prayer was prayed over new citizens, they were given a Bible as a gift, and when they sung the Canadian anthem they expressed gratitude to the God of the Bible who was asked to “keep our land glorious and free.”
Now, instead of singing “Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer, hold our Dominion, in Thy loving care,” we now look to the rule of law as our saving grace. And, by the way, Canadian law is no longer based on the Common law which was based upon Biblical law: it is now based on the law of our own making.
There is no question that things have changed – a lot. Time will tell if they have changed for the better. What made Canada Canada is no longer at the base creating who we are becoming. That concerns me. Will it make Canada safer for all who desire to make this nation their home? I am not sure. I know that most of our families came here from a different past. The challenge I guess is whether we will have a common future.