StephenVance 540Well, another Canada Day is upon us, but not just any Canada Day, this year we celebrate 150 years as a nation.

150 years is a long time, but it is also not so long at all. Compared to many nations whose history stretches back thousands of years, Canada is just an infant – wait, what am I saying? We're 150 now, so I guess on the world stage, we're now a toddler nation.

Without getting too patriotic, I have to say I do love this country.

My Canadian story is pretty much the standard Canadian story. On my mother's side I am the first generation born in Canada – my mother and grandparents moved to Canada from Britain in the 1950s, and on my father's side it's a mixed bag, including my great-grandmother, who was full-blooded Mohawk.

That my grandparents chose to live in Canada is something I've always tried to remind myself of whenever I'm frustrated with this great nation. As I look around the world today, I would likely want to move to Canada too if I were looking for a new home.

After all, we're a safe nation. I'm sure many countries around the world envy our safety here. Our crime rates are low, and we don't have bombs dropping on us, and while some hard core conservatives might argue that we have too many rules and regulations in this country, many of those regulations keep us safe whether in the workplace or on our roads, and that seems fair to me. Thank to those rules, our kids get to go to school here as opposed to working in a factory making shoes. Thanks to all those rules, employers in this country can't endanger their workers. Thanks to those rules, our bridges are fixed before they collapse. I don't mind rules so much, especially when they keep us safe.

Another reason I would choose to move to Canada if I were from afar and was looking for a new home is that we are an open, free society that welcomes all no matter the colour of your skin or the gods in which you believe, or don't. In my lifetime I've lived in northern Manitoba, in lower mainland British Columbia, and in many areas of Ontario, and one thing that all of the places I've lived in that I love so much is that not everyone looks like me.

We often hear terms like 'melting pot', but I don't think we're a melting pot, we're a mosaic. The term melting pot implies that we strip ourselves of our heritage, and meld together as one, but thankfully that isn't the case here in Canada, where we celebrate our cultural diversity – it's a big part of who we are. To anyone reading this who has come from away, don't hide your heritage, don't trade your culture for the red and white – share your culture, we're all the better for it!

We're all getting ready for a huge nationwide party in the coming days, and we as a nation deserve to celebrate our first 150 years, and to celebrate our successes. For the next few days, let's all leave our frustrations and our political views aside and celebrate the fact that we live in a country where it's okay to have those frustrations and political views and to express them. Let's celebrate that we live in a nation where it is okay to disagree. Let's celebrate this beautiful nation of ours.

And then let's pack up all of this red and white stuff and get back to the grind, because as proud as any of us are to be Canadian we don't need to constantly wave our flag. Our patriotism doesn't define us, rather it's a reflection of of our pride and gratitude for living in this fine nation.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

P.S. It's fun to party, but if you're drinking alcohol, or consuming the soon to be legal marijuana, do so responsibly, and don't get behind the wheel – call a friend, call a cab, or heck, walk. There's no honour in risking the lives of others.

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