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Building the Canada we want. An alternate approach to “wexit” sentiments

Canada Chats: Building the Canada we want – An alternate approach to the “wexit” sentiments #visioncanada2119

Back in the eighties, I had a maple leaf proudly stitched onto the back of my new SunIce jacket and headed over to Europe. I wanted my Canadian identity to be prominent and unmistakable. I still feel that way, and amid the hurt, anger, fear and frustration being felt across the country I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

For some, the pioneer spirit is taking hold and guiding people to consider forging a new path – to boldly break ties with our Canadian family and embark on a new journey – alone. I’ve lived in Alberta all my life, and I’ve heard separatist sentiments in the past, but this feels different.

I tried running away from my family once. I think I was six. Frustrated and angry about a decision, I threw a few things into a bag and marched out the door. Not sure I was more than 150 feet from the house before a new perspective began to emerge. The difference here is that comments are beginning to emerge that go beyond emotion – some people are actually trying to figure out what that might look like.

I don’t think we’ve really exhausted our efforts to pull Canada together. I don’t like the Alberta chatter about leaving confederation in the same way that I didn’t (and still don’t) want Quebec to leave.

I don’t like the idea of leaving my friends in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan stranded between two former reflections of themselves to represent Canada – and all that we share as a nation. I want to believe that the majority of Canadians from coast to coast to coast want to keep Canada whole.

Under all our raw emotions, I think Canadians have more in common than we have differences. We might disagree about ‘how’ we’re going to protect the planet while exporting raw goods, ‘how’ we best take care of people in need while encouraging a strong economy and keeping people employed, or even ‘how’ we finally accept that both Ontario and BC make amazing wines – we don’t have to determine that one is better that the other – they’re both Canadian.

I want to encourage you to reach out beyond your comfort level and engage in a discussion about the future of this great nation. Call your friend in New Brunswick, Ontario or Alberta and ask them if they’d like to keep Canada whole. Bravely engage in a conversation with your aunt in the Lower Mainland about her environmental views. Be curious. Be courteous. Be patient. Have the conversation with your neighbour in #timhortons – it could become the new centre for Canadian democracy – #cafeofcommons.

Take the time to listen for understanding. Suspend your urge to prepare a defence while they’re speaking. Be prepared to leave the conversation without expressing your views unless asked. I met with a young communications student from the University of

Calgary this week. We had a coffee conversation about what these conversations could do for the country. We talked about social media, appreciative inquiry, the fact that everything seems to be positioned to create controversy because of its polarity, and he suggested that we might start by envisioning a unified Canada 100 years from now – 2119.

You know, I’m of the age that grandchildren would we a welcome addition to the family. I want them to grow up in a prosperous, clean, considerate and unified Canada – the best place on the planet to raise a family. I’m extending an invitation to you – my fellow Canadians – to engage in a conversation that’s aspirational and unifying – one that makes it possible for our future generations to be proud to wear the maple leaf.

Admit it, feels pretty darned amazing to watch our young athletes stand atop the world stage every four years as we hear our national anthem play. I don’t want our negative emotions to get in the way of that – I want my grandkids to experience that for themselves. Let’s exercise respect, integrity and curiosity to make Canada truly amazing. I’m inviting you to join the conversation at #visioncanada2119.

Originally posted to Todayville.com

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