What Makes Canada Great?

According to Maclean’s September 2007 Special report, our nation, the nation of Canada, is the pearl of the world. We are not just a vacation destination: we are the desire of nations. Ken MacQueen pointed out that the whole world is in love with us. That’s nice to know, eh? I have traveled to more than 40 countries, and I know firsthand the tremendous advantage it is for me to carry a Canadian passport, or to proudly wear the Canadian flag.

The How the World Sees Canada poll revealed a global infatuation with our country. Whether it was votes from friendly countries (ie. USA, Britain), or the opinion of countries that are borderline (ie. Iran, North Korea), Canada is the nation of choice.

I know what I love about Canada. I love being able to put my belly boat (if you don’t know what it is, I can’t tell you) in one of our lakes and bring home trout for the family. I love taking deep breathes of clean, cool air. I love the rich and diverse culture, from east to west. I love the feeling – not just the ideal – of freedom.

What do these immigrants like about us? Well, though there may be a significant level of ignorance about our nation’s history and geography (hopefully our Citizenship program clears that up), they are attracted to many things that we may take for granted.

Canada is known for its natural resources – ie. its mountains, clean rivers, prosperous farmlands. Many move here because of our government’s commitment to social services and health. They like our dedication to the development and protection of a multi-ethnic, diverse society. Most believe as well that Canada is the best place in the world to improve their economic situation, high taxes notwithstanding.

Canada is a land of immigrants. Most of our families have roots in other nations. Our ancestors came, and they were given a chance to succeed. I am glad that Canada maintains a deep compassion towards foreigners and aliens who want an opportunity to build a future for their families.

In a swearing in ceremony in Vancouver, BC, citizenship Judge Shinder Purewal, after sharing his personal life journey, stated to those being inducted that “what makes Canada great is your presence.” In other words, it is not a nation that makes its people great, it is the greatness in the people that makes a nation great.

I agree with the judge’s assessment. What a welcome when the gifts and talents, the education and experience, the greatness in each one of these new citizens is celebrated. Many have left nations that lost their grip on the individual’s sense of personal value and worth.

However, I have a question that begs asking: “What makes people great?” I happen to believe what Martin Luther King stated: greatness has to do with the measure of a person’s character. We are a people “judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.”

The etymology of the word character refers to the act of engraving. A person would imprint his seal (or character) upon what he owned, like a king upon the royal mint. James A. Froude said, “You cannot dream yourself into character, you must hammer and forge yourself one.”

This is why I am a Christian and a pastor. I believe that the greatest character imprint upon mankind is the impression of Jesus Christ. It is also why I maintain a high commitment to the Christian education of the next generation.

What makes Canada great? Its people – Canadians do.

What makes Canadians great? Their individual deposit of character into the corporate mix makes this nation great.

May God make us a people of great character who work together to make our nation great.