Last weekend across Canada, millions of people gathered in parks and pavilions to celebrate Canada Day. In Manitoba and Steinbach, many events were held on a hot summer weekend to mark the 156th year of Canada as a nation.
It has become a tradition locally for hundreds of people to come to the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) Museum on Canada Day. Favorable weather and free admission meant the grounds were full this year as families enjoyed a number of special activities. I was honoured to join with Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk to participate in opening ceremonies and welcome visitors to the museum. Representatives of the RCMP, who this year are celebrating their 150th anniversary, were also on hand to help raise the Canadian flag.
The MHV is always a fitting place to celebrate Canada Day because while it focuses on the story of the Mennonite settlers coming to Canada, in many ways it is a story that reflects all those who were early settlers to this country. It reflects their struggles but also of their hopes and optimism. On the grounds of the museum on Canada Day were hundreds of other new Canadians who also have come with that same hope and optimism for themselves and their families to Canada.
This draw to find a new life in Canada is one of the reasons that just a couple of weeks ago, Canada’s population surpassed 40 million people. Many around the world continue to view this country as a desirable place to make a new life. Both in Winnipeg and Ottawa, this was reflected in citizenship ceremonies that officially welcomed new Canadians.
Later in the day, the Steinbach soccer park played host to residents with a number of family friendly activities that would culminate in fireworks at the end of the day. While some Canada Day celebrations capped the day with a drone show, the traditional fireworks display in Steinbach was spectacular.
From coast to coast to coast, Canadians were able to celebrate what our country means to them. And there is much to celebrate. At every juncture of our history, there have been challenges. These have ranged from war to economic downturns to pandemics. But through all these challenges Canada has remained one of the most desirable places to live in the entire world. That is never more evident than when you have the opportunity to speak with new Canadians and hear the reasons that they decided to come to Canada.
The challenge for each of us as Canadians is to not only think about what Canada offers us, but what we can offer it in return. Through giving back to our communities and our fellow citizens we help to build a better and stronger country to leave the next generation of Canadians. Canada Day was a great opportunity to celebrate our nation and every day is an opportunity to help make it even better.