As I did not travel off island this year, all photos were taken here on the east coast of Vancouver Island. In no way do they represent all of Canada, just as I do not represent all Canadians, but I hope the emotions these photos and words evoke may mirror how many Canadians feel when looking at their own regions of our beautiful country.
I also respectfully recognize and extend my hands in greeting to the peoples of the Coast Salish Nations, on whose traditional territory I live, hike, and photograph nature.
My Canada, Our Canada, Oh Canada!
Today we celebrate our love for you,
Though today's celebration across our thirteen provinces and territories will be like none before.
It is the year of Covid, when large gatherings are unwise, and for some even small gatherings unsafe. But we are Canadians,
and when our lives become unsettled
May we remember that you, Oh Canada, in all your beauty, can give us strength.
We find in your landscape moments of tranquility,
and images of caring and sharing.
Oh Canada, we look to nature to remind us of the circle of life:
That after darkness comes daylight,
That after rain comes sunshine,
That after fall and winter come spring and summer.
May you, Canada, always provide us with reminders that each of your citizens still needs time to rest,
to act wisely,
to reflect deeply.
In your beautiful waters, Oh Canada, you evoke awe.
In the birds and animals of land and sea, you give us wonder.
In the grassy meadows and towering mountains, we find peace.
In the flowers that burst forth in spring, you give us hope
You provide for us with generosity
You demonstrate to us diversity
You show us beauty in commonplace items
and give us room to breathe with wide open spaces.
Oh Canada, in this year of Covid, may we Canadians face our shared challenges together,
May we sing joyfully, rise above obstacles, look up to those we admire, and smile often.
And even if we stand alone,
Perhaps fragile and timid as we flit about our day
Or confident and stern, stomping firmly to claim our space,
We need to know that turning our back on any part of you, Canada,
Will only bring us face to face with more of your beauty.
And that even things which seem black and white can be very complicated and complex.
May we honor you, Canada,
By being the best we can be.
Even in these difficult times,
Especially in these difficult times.
May those of us who live here always treat each other with kindness, respect, and compassion,
Caring for each other through pandemics and protests.
As the sun sets on this Celebration of you, Oh Canada,
May every Canadian be able to say
"I have done my best to protect you, Canada,
to protect and nurture your land,
to protect and nurture your rivers and lakes and oceans,
To protect and nurture your plants and animals,
And to protect and nurture your peoples - all your peoples - with equal respect, compassion, and justice.
May we always, no matter what the circumstance, remember the words of BC's top doctor, Dr Bonnie Henry:
"Now is the time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe".
And now is also the time to peacefully, respectfully, lovingly, and joyfully celebrate Canada.
Happy Canada Day!