"A Canadian. Is a Canadian. Is a Canadian." With all the political commentary, articles, blog posts and tweets written about last night, truer words could not have been said by our newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I woke up this morning with my faith in the future our beautiful nation restored, a smile on my face and my red and white pride in my home and native land, set aright.
My father immigrated to this beautiful nation in the early 1970s with his life savings, wife, three-month-old daughter and a couple of suitcases. It was his first time this side of the Atlantic. He landed on Christmas Day, found an apartment and started a new life for his family. He did as most of our families and ancestors did. He chose a new home for his family, built a new dream and worked hard to achieve it. It is because of his, and the sacrifices of countless others that our nation is as diverse as it is beautiful. A mosaic of cultures intertwined in our love and pride for our collective nation.
Growing up in South Asia, my father knew little about Canada or even where it was. It wasn't until 1971, after playing a game of table tennis with his roommate in Frankfurt, Germany he watched a CBC reporter interview then Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, (in relation to the Oka crisis) "Sir how far would you go?" he was asked. He responded "just watch me." In that moment my father decided he wanted to raise his family in the country this great man was leading. He moved his family to this great nation to provide a better future and live the Canadian dream. Years later my father ran into the late Trudeau on the streets of Montréal and had the opportunity to shake his hand, and thank him for his service.
We grew up with a strong pride in being Canadian. In our nation's inclusiveness, empathy and tolerance. It was our identity first and foremost. While we are ever so proud of our South Asian heritage, we only know Canada as our home. We gathered with our Pakistani friends and ate our biryani, samosas and chai while watching Saturday night hockey. I remember fondly that summer that I participated in the Pakistan float of Montreal's Canada Day parade wearing my shalwar kameez (traditional clothing). I waved the Pakistan flag in a parade where each float represented a different community; yet we were all there unified to celebrate our beautiful nation of Canada.
Yesterday's election was unique. There was a fervency in the air. We were on a mission to eradicate divisive, dog whistle politics that had begun to tarnish our impeccable reputation on the world stage. Harper was referred to as the Trump of the North. His disregard for aboriginals and disrespect for the Muslim community accomplished one beautiful result; Muslims and First Nations went out to vote in droves. His lack of regard for the youth vote drove the youth out to the polls. It was reminiscent of a certain provincial election we recently experienced; that of Pauline Marois and the proposed Charter of Values. They may be two different politicians but their message was clear: divide and conquer. By verbally preying on visible minorities they sought to embolden their right wing supporters but the truth rung true then as it did last night, we refuse to fall victim to divisive rhetoric.
Our nation is unified in its diversity. We are as pluralistic as we are polite. We are as diverse as we are talented in hockey. We live in a nation where we celebrate our differences, not divide because of them. We COME TOGETHER when times are tough, we help one another and we do so with pride because that is what being Canadian is all about. By voting for change, we sent our message loud and clear. Positivity trumps negativity. The previous administration attempted to divide us but as I sat on my couch, listening to Justin Trudeau's valiant acceptance speech with goosebumps, my Canadian pride grew stronger with his every word. He reiterated what we all know to be true, that Canadians "are kind, generous, open minded, optimistic and know in their heart of hearts that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian." Thank you Justin Trudeau. Thank you.
This post was originally published on CanadianMomEh.com
Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is a journalist, blogger and passionate ambassador for Canadian diversity.