What does it mean to be Canadian? I ask that of my students when I teach grade school. The kids always come up with great ideas like, ‘we play hockey,’ ‘we have lots of moose,’ and ‘we are known for our maple syrup.’ I love brainstorming with my students; what symbolizes Canada and what does it mean to be Canadian. We often have deep meaningful conversations that involve critical thinking and deeper level of understanding.

When I think of Canada I am generally proud of us being knowns as, ”the True North Strong and Free,” as our National Anthem states. It is heart warming to think about how people from around the world generally view us as such a polite country. I live in a beautiful country that used to be full of kind, caring and compassionate people. Canada is no longer that place. The country that I love has been deeply crippled by fear, division and deception. 

We are no longer free. We are no longer living in a country governed by the rule of law or a functioning democracy. In grade 6, students in my province learn about the “Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” We teach students that we all have these rights as Canadians. However, our current federal and provincial governments have been stripping away these rights since the start of the pandemic and our society has allowed that to happen. 

In the beginning we all obeyed because the world was closing down and we were all working together to ”Stop the Spread.” We shut schools, stores and businesses. If we could, we worked from home and supported each other to get through all of the unknowns the pandemic brought. When schools and businesses opened again we worked together to follow protocols and social distance and ”Stop the Spread.” There continued to be a sense of community and collaboration amongst the people. We were working together to do the best we could with what we had. 

Then everything shifted. The ’vaccines’ were ‘approved’ under emergency order. People who were living in fear started flocking to get their vaccine and ’Stop the Spread.’ This seemed to also make people feel a sense of community and collaboration. They felt like getting the shot was the best way for them to protect themselves and society and this made people feel connected because they were all doing their part. 

Next, the deep division started and this is where I started to truly loose faith in our country. Our politicians started spouting off propaganda against the unvaccinated stating we could not go back to normal until we had 75% of the population vaccinated. Then they started enforcing vaccine passports and things started to get nasty. As soon as these policies were in place a deep division in society emerged. For me personally these policies are extremely concerning, not from a health perspective but from a rights perspective. My first degree is in Political Science, so the fact that rights and freedoms granted in our Charter were being violated and people were okay with this frightens me to my core. 

Regardless of your vaccination status the violation of Charter Rights should be terrifying to you, because if we allow it to start here it opens the door to a very slippery slope of rights violations being okay in many other areas of our lives. This is what is most concerning to me. In the future are you going to have to show your health records to get a job? (Well this is currently happening in many industries across the country) Will you have to share all of your families medical history with every restaurant that you attend for the rest of your life? Will it prevent your child from playing sports because you have a family history of some disease and it will affects the organizations insurance? This is the slippery slope so many people are blinded to because their only focus is COVID. Yet if you take a step back and look at the numbers throughout the world and even within the provinces of Canada vaccinations have not stopped the spread anywhere. So my question is how can the governments justify their mandates? 

As a teacher who focuses on my student mental health first this whole experience has been very challenging. Students want to hug their friends and are being told they can’t. Humans need physical touch. There is a wealth of research on the necessity of touch as a child develops from infancy on. This has been removed. Not to mention how the masks prevent young children from learning facial cues and developing speech. Since the start of all of this our teen suicides have increased, overdoses have increased, family violence has increased and no main stream media is talking about this. In the fall I wrote a letter to my MLA and at the time just the number of overdoses in our province doubled the number of covid deaths over the same time period. Why is this not a giant red flag? If our politicians were truly looking out for societies health as a whole we need to look at the health of society as a whole not just one hyper-focused fear driven pin point of it. 

I personally have really struggled with my mental health through this all. Not because I have ever feared COVID but because I fear how people are treating each other. How there is no open public debates allowed from specialists on both sides of the debate. How our media is being censored and how only one narrative is being broadcast. That narrative is one of fear and division. The Canada I know and love is not a fear driven society. We survive minus 40 and dig each other out of the ditch on the side of the highway. We hike through the mountains and carry tiny bottles of bear spray with no fear. We have First Nations who have survived horrible atrocities from our governments past and we are finally bringing a bit of peace and understanding to it. We are a strong people who at points in history are able to admit our mistakes and try to make amends. 

Since the fall when the vaccine mandates came out I have really struggled with hope. Regardless of your vaccination status you are no longer free. You have to show papers to do anything regardless of your status. That means you are no longer free and your Charter Rights and freedom of information and privacy has been completely stripped from you and your fellow Canadians. 

However, I now feel a small sense of hope. The Freedom Convoy from the truckers is the first time I have seen people collaborating again. Canadians have raise almost 3 million dollars for their cause in a very short amount of time. This group of people is standing up for our freedoms. For everyones freedoms and the chance for our children to grow up in a truly free society governed by the rule of law. 

I ask you… What does it mean to be Canadian? What are you doing to help preserve the STRONG AND FREE country we once were? How do we reinstate our democracy and place people in power who are truly doing what is best for our diverse and beautiful country

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