This past Monday was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. It’s a holiday we’ve always celebrated, at least during my lifetime. I believe I’ve mentioned before, that as a child in grades one through three, we always created pictures using the images of Pilgrims and Indians and pumpkins and that first Thanksgiving feast of lore, celebrating the first harvest in the New World.
It wasn’t until I became much older, that I realized the concept of the holiday we celebrated was in fact American. This didn’t bother me, of course. There are more similarities between Canadians and Americans than a lot of people truly realize.
That said, the way our two countries came into being is vastly different, and that difference is ingrained in our innate and distinctive ‘national’ characters.
The United States came into being as the result of the melding of Continental Congresses and armed rebellion—the War of Independence in 1776. Canada came into being as the result of the melding of Confederation Conferences, and an act of British Parliament—The British North America Act of 1867—nearly a hundred years later.
Those national births, so different one from the other, go a long way toward explaining the major difference between our two peoples: Americans hold as a sacred right, that right to bear arms; Canadians don’t have that ingrained in their DNA. Arms are not a national symbol to us, as they played no part in the foundation of our country.
And yet, Canadians joined their American neighbors to fight in the same wars since the twentieth century, and on the same side in those wars. Canadians were automatically at war on the same day as Great Britain in the first Great War; Canadians hit the beach on D-Day during the second Great War. Canadians have served in Korea, Viet Nam (in that case, volunteering to serve in the US armed forces in order to do so), have been stationed in Kandahar and our Navy participated in Desert Storm.
Yes, by the numbers, our losses have been less than those of our neighbors to the south, but our Military is so very much smaller, that proportionately, our losses were actually greater.
When we give thanks at this time of year, it’s for the same basic things as our American friends. We’re grateful to live in a nation that is mostly peaceful. We’re grateful to be raising our families in societies that value democracy and the rule of law, and individual rights. We’re grateful for these blessings, and the opportunity to pursue our dreams, and to make our own way in the world.
We’re good neighbors, and good friends. We have each others backs, and are ready to help, when help is needed. Our Thanksgiving is always in October, I would suggest, because this is harvest time for us north of the 49th. We even have our own version of black Friday—but we get two of those: our own, and the one the day after the American Thanksgiving, too.
We really do have more in common than that which makes us different. Going forward, I know that we will remain good friends, good neighbors, and staunch allies.
To my Canadian readers, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!