The very first time I was ever published was in a 2007 Canadian Living Magazine. It was an article called, “It’s My Party.” (I’d share the link, but I’m not sure magazines were even online then) It was a sweet little story about my son Noah. I had asked him what theme he’d like for his 5th birthday party, and he asked for a Canada party.

When asked why?

His simple reply, “Because Canada has been so good to us.”

Canada has been good to us. 

I think about that moment every year, usually on Canada Day. Like most of my favourite in-the-past parenting moments, I sometimes close my eyes and pretend I’m back in a specific time. I can still hear the sincerity in his voice, and the sweet look on his face. A little boy who wanted to celebrate his birthday and the country that had been so good to him. Something he recognized at the age of 5.

I thought about that moment last month. I was going to write about it then, because my heart was feeling heavy. In what I see as becoming an ever-increasing divided nation, I sometimes wrestle with the future of our beloved country. At the time there were rail blockades, divisions, ugly words between parties, accusation and blame, people hurting, industries affected – and situations and outcomes far more intricate and complicated than I can ever pretend to completely understand.

But I love my country.

I kept hearing that sweet little voice saying, “Canada has been so good to us.”

And it has. I can’t sing the national anthem without tearing up and feeling overwhelmingly grateful. I love Canada. I love being Canadian. I also recognize that we are not a perfect nation. We struggle with leadership on all sides, disagree on our freedoms, wrestle with issues, and there is a polarization and divide that feels increasingly far-reaching. We are slipping farther and farther away from our foundations, and one can’t help wonder what the future of our nation looks like.

Then, now happened.

The reality of now is hard to comprehend. All of our worlds have been turned upside down in the last week. I can’t think of any other situation that we have had to collectively face as a nation, like what’s happening right now.

Many of us may be feeling fearful about the days ahead. And while we still may not agree on many issues, we have been all brought together in this new reality.

And I was thinking, maybe now it’s time for us to be good to Canada.

Maybe it’s time for us to be good to each other.

Those dividing lines in the sand? Could it be time to brush them away?

Now is about our neighbours, taking care of each other, reaching out, focusing on the things that bring us together – not what drives us apart.

Now is about the health of our country, coast to coast.

Now is about how we come together in crisis, and navigate what’s ahead.

How we live now, will shape the days ahead.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert on the economy, politics, or any of the big issues that face our country. Perhaps I’m too idealistic and naive and have my head in the clouds. (It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been told that) Maybe, we are too far apart to come together. Maybe it’s too late.

But, maybe it’s not.

I’m not sure that we even have a choice. If we can’t come together now, what hope do we have? It will never be perfect, we are humans after all. But I have to believe things can be better.

We can all do better together. And we are. If you look hard, in the middle of the stats, reports, actions, and numbers that feel dark Р there are also reports of hope and love. Communities coming together. People taking care of those around them. Simple acts of kindness and care. No dividing lines, but a collective purpose to keep on going.

Light shining through the darkness.

Be that light.

All of us can make the choice to shine.

I keep repeating the words from our national anthem in my heart.

God keep our land.

Glorious, yes.

Free, yes.

But most of all, God keep our land.

I think about those 8 little kids in our treehouse at the Canada birthday party. Sweaty little faces, sticky hands and Canada tattoos plastered on their arms. Standing together and singing the national anthem, in their little off-key voices.

Canada has been good to us.

Let’s work really hard on being good back.

And in these days ahead, may God keep our land.