For those who don’t know, 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. I remember the Centennial anniversary: when Canada turned 100 in 1967. Well, I was all of three and a half years old, but I vaguely remember our trip to Ottawa and to the historical landmarks we visited there. It was the year of Expo ’67 in Montreal, and Mr. Dressup started on CBC television. I still have commemorative coins and dollar bills from that year. It was a time of activity and celebration: for us very much as was the American bicentennial in 1976 (which I remember much better).
I think it’s a bit of a bummer that the catch-phrase for this year is Canada150. I like the sound of sesquicentennial better; it’s a Q-word one doesn’t run into every day. But it’s also a bit long for these days. In a twitter feed, Canada150 is quicker and easier to address. It’s also a bit more prosaic, but that is less of a concern in the modern age. We want our events to be bright and expensive: but not necessarily challenging.
This year we hope for the same kind of energy and national attention as we had in ’67. I’m sure that to some degree it will be eclipsed by darkness and confusion to the south, with the rise of Trump’s quasi-capitalist propaganda: but that in itself gives us an opportunity to shine. With Trump and his cronies in power, the U.S. will advance further along its trajectory toward economic classicism, racism, misogyny, homophobia and general xenophobia. Canada has certainly taken strides in the same direction over the last decade, but we seem to be shifting our course. As the queen said in her address on New Year’s Day (CTV News, 2017), “[we] will have the opportunity to remind the world of the importance of protecting [our] values and of passing them on to future generations”. I pray that this year we will be able to resist those around us and build on values that move beyond money, wealth and power.