This week, HuffPost bloggers counted down to Canada Day with a series of short pieces about what they'd like to change about their home and native land. As you might imagine, the suggestions and wishes covered a wide range of territory -- from singer Jully Black's passionate plea that we support and celebrate the country's R&B soul artists, to chef Vikram Vij's wish for more experimenting with ethnic cuisines -- and food in general. I hope you'll sit back, put on some tunes, and take a few moments to check out all the ideas HuffPost contributors shared for keeping Canada strong and free.
The reaction of the populace to Calgary's flooding, particularly the city's ballsy mayor Naheed Nenshi, painted Canada as tough-as-nails action figures fighting World War H20. Despite this, the majority of non-Canadians still see us more as that somewhat dopey, big obliviously-smilin' guy portrayed on the cover of Bill Mann's book than they do us as the fearless, hip, smart folk we know we are. Which is why, if I could change anything about our country, it would be the symbols that define us to others.
Canada is a superb creation and initial credit for that must, obviously, go to Canada's founding fathers. How we came about is a fascinating tale of seemingly intractable regional disputes resolved, at least for a time, by new institutions and a new country. Thus, today, inter-provincial debates are similar to pre-1867 tussles where one province's citizens complain of how others are on the federal dole courtesy of tax dollars from the more prosperous regions. And all the provinces again regularly press the federal government for more money.
If I was handed a magic wand, I would erase all of the unsaid fear that a lot of the executives at radio stations, record companies, corporate brands, television and print media outlets have in promoting and celebrating our domestic R&B soul singers. I would urge them to passionately and freely support the artists of this genre in ways that are equal to the artists of other genres.
To be Canadian is to always feel just a little different than the cool kids. How can we compete when every one of us is an immigrant, or descendant of immigrants, and the mix of who we are changes constantly? Maybe we're asking the wrong question. If we took a closer look, we might find that we're cooler than we realize. Canadians have a unique relationship with our history. We're proud of the country we built, but ashamed of the steps we took to get here. For many of us, the easiest solution is to try not to look back at all. But when we don't know our history, we don't just miss out on a dusty old past. It makes it hard to imagine our future.
If I could change one thing about Canada, it would be to place a greater emphasis on the study and practice of arts education at every level. There is a widespread presumption that schools nowadays must focus almost exclusively on science, technology, engineering and mathematics if students are to be properly prepared to face the future.
Why does Canada still retain any connection to monarchy? In all of our recent indignation over the totally predicable abuse of power by unelected, unaccountable senators, we've overlooked an even sillier layer of law-making: royal assent.
It's time to bring out the reds and whites for Canada Day. Canadian wines themselves are a reason to celebrate July 1 - you no longer have to be a diehard patriot to drink them. These wines stand tall and free on their own. Pair them with grilled meats, fresh seafood and other Canada Day treats.
This is what we would change about Canada: Compulsory volunteer hours as part of a holistic service learning model -- in every classroom in the country. Formal instruction should help students learn the root causes of whatever social deficit their volunteer hours help fill. Every school should be granted funding and the resources needed to adapt their own service-learning model.
We have to take responsibility and understand our own triggers for eating these foods and why we continue to put them into our shopping carts. We have to read labels more carefully and understand the guidelines for a healthy diet, so we won't get lured into these traps. This is not impossible.
I want to change sport in this country to make it more accessible to our kids. I see too many Canadian kids not able to participate in sport; not afforded the chance to be a part of a team, be active or learn new skills. One of the biggest barriers is due to the rising costs of participating in sport.
When I was asked to write about what I would change in Canada, I hemmed and hawed and scratched my head in total bemusement. I finally hyper-focussed on the fact that, although Canada boasts the longest coastline as the second largest country with ninth highest standard of living in the world, it also contains the highest amount of shitty drivers.
If I were able, I would change the map. There are a few options here, but for any of these we'd no longer be sitting on top of the United States and, as we are constantly told is the case, we'd not see ourselves as huddled along the border -- crouching almost.
This was a no-brainer for me because my whole life's work is dedicated to making ONE change to Canada. It's my mission statement: "To make parent education as acceptable and accessible as pre-natal classes." Taking a parenting class is responsible parenting. Isn't it a shame there is a stigma for improving one's self?
Though this might have a counterintuitive ring, Canada's mayors -- the people who are directly responsible for Canada's cities and the most accountable to their citizens -- should have the power to make decisions about local needs and infrastructure, and the ability to raise the money they need to carry out their plans.
Since I came to Canada in 1989, it's been very important to me to spread the word of Indian cuisine to as many people as possible. I think it is gaining momentum, but attitudes towards ethnic food, and the boundaries around the way it is presented, still need to evolve.