O Canada Day!

News Release

Canadians across the land will celebrate Canada Day on July 1 with barbecues, flag raisings and expressions of love for our nation. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are taught to obey the laws of their individual countries (see the Church’s twelfth article of faith). To commemorate Canada Day, Church members were asked what Canada or Canada Day means to them.

Diane Kenney of Montreal’s West Island in Quebec commented, “Canada means peace, freedom, generosity and family. Canadians care about each other and the world. Canadians work to build communities of respect and co-operation. Canada Day is our celebration of all these wonderful and challenging goals.”

Owen Dogan was born in Turkey but came to Canada 16 years ago because he wanted a North American university education. He came to Canada by himself and settled first in Toronto. His parents applied for immigration not long afterward and brought the rest of the family with them to Edmonton as permanent residents.

When Dogan was asked what he enjoys about Canada, he said with a smile, “Not the cold! [I enjoy] the freedom of being able to do what you want. The culture, the variety of things you can do and the people who come from different countries … make the country unique and unite us.”

Jean-Paul Nkunzi of Sherwood Park, Alberta, arrived in Canada as a refugee from Rwanda after its 1994 genocide. “I enjoy the freedom, peace and love here,” he said. “As Canadians, we are not afraid of lending a hand to one another. We are different. We work to blend in, and everyone is accepted — every culture is accepted. We listen more than we speak.”

Bob Thompson of Lethbridge, Alberta, knows it is important to help those from other cultures feel accepted when they come to Canada. He has organized volunteer work at his local Latter-day Saint chapel to assist Syrian refugees who now call Canada home. Thompson remarked, “As a Christian, I believe that helping refugees is imperative. … My own work with refugees has made me a better person.”

Sometimes it takes travel to help Canadians appreciate what we have. Scott Ostertag lives in New Westminster, British Columbia, and recently travelled to El Salvador. He and a group of other Canadians visited a museum dedicated to the Salvadoran civil war. When their tour guide learned they were Canadian, he expressed his gratitude for the role Canada played to end the civil war.

Ostertag said, “There was a place [at the museum] where the Canadian flag … would have been mounted [to honour the country’s role to end the civil war], but the guide apologized for the missing flag. One of our students had brought a Canadian flag, and we felt this was the right place to share it with this gentleman. It brought tears to his eyes. I was thousands of kilometres from home, a pretty patriotic Canadian, and was totally unprepared to see and feel what my country meant to someone else, [someone who was] not even a citizen. It choked me up as well.”

In Canada, we are proud of our strong country, one in which all are valued. On July 1, “O Canada” will be heard, flags will fly and families will gather in picnics and BBQs as people remember who they are, from where they may have come and the freedoms we all enjoy.

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