2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Canadian Confederation, which provides an excellent opportunity for Canadians to reflect on what brought – and keeps – their nation together.
There is a fair chance you have realized that this year is something very special for Canadians, as a series of events has been going on since January to celebrate 150 years of Canada in a dignified manner. The land on which Canada was formed existed before July 1 1867, however with the passage of the British North America Act, a piece of legislation adopted by the British Parliament on that day, the Dominion of Canada was formed, consisting of the Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
“This day allows us to reflect on what it means to be Canadian and what values we hold dear and want to project,” Isabelle Poupart, Ambassador to Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina tells the Budapest Business Journal. Four main themes have been identified and are being promoted: youth; reconciliation of indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians; environment; and diversity. Accordingly, a four-day celebration is taking place in Canada combining National Aboriginal Day (June 21), Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) and the grand finale of Canada Day (July 1). Apart from that, a vast range of activities are under way to engage citizens and visitors alike across the country.
As Poupart explains, the government aims to highlight the identified core values where diversity plays a peculiar role, as it is a very important feature of Canadian identity. “Identity is under constant debate in Hungary as well, and we need to share perspectives about how we see these complex issues for a better mutual understanding,” the ambassador says. This touches on many other matters such as migration, which in the Canadian context covers refugee resettlement, economic migration and family reunification. Last year alone, Canada welcomed 330,000 newcomers, something the authorities believe is essential to maintaining high economic performance.
“Growth requires this influx of people bringing skills and expertise, and this explains at least partially why the Canadian experience with migration remains positive,” Poupart adds. In this sense, the soon-to-be-applied EU-Canada Trade Agreement, CETA, can help as it is a progressive agreement reflecting the highest standards of labor and environmental protection.
Recently the Canadian Ambassador was invited to speak at the Hungarian Business Leaders’ Forum to reflect on the Canadian experience of diversity. “It goes well beyond ethnicity or religion, it is a much broader concept including gender equality, equal opportunities for the LGBT community and non-discrimination for people with disabilities,” Poupart stressed. As she notes, multiculturalism is what helped Canada become the nation it is now: Starting with the aboriginal peoples, then the engagement of the two founding nations, and finally all those who came to live in Canada in various waves for various reasons.
The Hungarian government has also offered a generous gift on the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary: A talented Hungarian children’s choir will perform on and around Canada Day at a series of events at various locations in Ontario. But no worries, Canada 150 will be heard of around here too, so stay tuned for more.