10/22/2014 03:23 EDT | Updated 12/22/2014 05:59 EST

Don't Let Gunshots Change Canada's Values


Peace, order and good government. These values define us as Canadians. Today's shocking events in Ottawa cannot let us lose sight of what makes us who we are.

We as Canadians pride ourselves on being open and welcoming of all people, regardless of where they're from and who they are. Our values have led us to be world leaders in progressive legislation and our acceptance of all groups is a characteristic of Canada that makes us unique. It makes me proud every day.

Naturally, any threat to these values is unnerving. We have been the victims of terrorist attacks in the past, but few expect Canada to be at the centre of horrible events like the ones currently unfolding. It is a testament to what we've built that this is shocking and unexpected.

But throughout these uncertain events, I take solace in knowing that we are a strong country with devoted and proud citizens. And I believe that we, as Canadians, will emerge from these events stronger and more united. We are a caring nation that looks after our people and respects our allies. When our American friends were attacked on September 11th, Canada was there as a devoted ally of all Americans who were affected. We must be there for our own citizens now, more than ever. We owe it to the women and men that serve our country to be stronger than ever now.

I have lived away from Canada since 2009. My studies and professional life have taken me to England and now the United States. It is my good fortune as a Canadian that I have been able to share my identity with others abroad and I never lose sight of where I came from. As the son of two parents who emigrated to Canada in the 1970s, I am deeply appreciative of the above attitudes that welcomed them with open arms and gave them the opportunities to live and work freely.

We must not lose sight of any of this. As we rely on our free press to report these events sensibly and accurately, we must place our values at the forefront of any reaction we have. This tragedy should not be treated as an opportunity to point fingers, blame others, or resort to xenophobia and fear. Instead, it should remind us that despite tragic events, we have built a country with strong and just values that we continue to live by every day.

To the law enforcement officials that are keeping us safe, we thank you. To Ottawans, I hope that you and your families are safe and are taking proper precautions. When we recover from this, we must remember that to change our behaviour because we feel threatened would be to concede that our values can be punctured by the awful actions of a few. We must remain strong and free.

My heart goes out to all those affected by these horrible events. As I watch everything unfold from abroad, I have never felt more at home. We are Canadians. And we always will be.


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