Thank You, Canada—150 Has Never Looked so Good!

By Rupen Janbazian

Hey Canada,

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve left, I have not forgotten about you or how good you’ve been to me…

Every time I tell people here that I hail from your shores, you end up being the butt of all the jokes.

From our love of poutine and maple syrup, to the way we say “sorry” and overuse “eh?”… I’ll admit—Canada and Canadians are an easy target.

All jokes aside though, as I begin to reflect on your 150th birthday, I realize there are many reasons to be thankful for you…

Thank you for welcoming my people with open arms during our most vulnerable of times. Thank you for allowing 110 orphaned boys of the Armenian Genocide to come to Georgetown, Ontario, in what became known as “Canada’s Noble Experiment”—your first humanitarian act on an international scale. Thank you for bringing over an additional 40 orphaned Armenian girls and for making the story of the Georgetown Boys and Girls an integral part of your evolution into a country known worldwide as a humanitarian and peace-keeping leader.

Thank you for being a nation that accepts people from all over the world and from all walks of life with open arms, where they are able to practice all aspects of their culture freely and openly. Thank you for allowing my community to thrive and to flourish over the past century. Thank you for allowing us to build our community centers, schools, churches, and organizations, which have produced generations that speak our language and uphold our people’s customs and traditions.

Thank you for giving the world Atom and Arsinée, Raffi and his banana phoneKarshBayrakdarian, and so many other countless national treasures of Armenian heritage.

Thank you for recognizing the plight of my people—for courageously acknowledging the Armenian Genocide despite much pressure not to do so. And thank you for unyieldingly reaffirming your commitment to human rights and justice year after year.

Thank you for acknowledging that your own history has had dark moments and for being a moral example to the rest of the world by apologizing for them. Thank you for looking back at the Chinese head tax; the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese, and Italian Canadians during the WWI and WWII; the turning away of boats of Jewish, Punjabi, and other refugees; your history of slavery; and the longtime government policy of taking aboriginal children away from their families and cultures, in regret and shame. Thank you for proving that admitting past wrongs is not only the right thing to do, but is the only way to be true to yourself.

Thank you for allowing your people to protest peacefully and to stand for something they believe in—a fundamental freedom guaranteed in your Charter.

Thank you for your recent, warm welcoming of Syrian refugees—yet another honorable example to the rest of the world. Thank you for continuing your international humanitarian tradition, which began over a century ago, and for offering and providing refuge not only to the people of Syria, but to all people in dire straits.

And finally, thank you for passionately defending the rights of all your citizens, regardless of race, cultural heritage, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, place of origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Thank you for truly regarding diversity as a national asset and for ensuring that a multicultural, integrated, and inclusive citizenship will be every Canadian’s inheritance.

I may be not be there physically, but you’re always in my heart.

Here’s to you, Canada… 150 has never looked so good!

Watertown, Mass.