Jacqueline Van Horne was among the Grade 5 St. Joseph's school students whom we asked what Canada Day means.

Lessons from elementary school on Canada Day

Tomorrow marks my 17th Canada Day in Nelson and it never gets old. Growing up in Calgary, it seemed celebrating Canada’s birthday was more about an extra day off than a community celebration. July 1 in Nelson is one of the best days of the year.

Tomorrow marks my 17th Canada Day in Nelson and it never gets old. Growing up in Calgary, it seemed celebrating Canada’s birthday was more about an extra day off than a community celebration. July 1 in    Nelson is one of the best days of the year.

Over the years I’ve been charged with putting together the front page of the Canada Day newspaper and it’s always daunting. How to properly mark the occasion is never easy. Most times I’ve failed to do it justice.

Today’s front page is different and I think does manage to capture the essence of this day and this great nation.

Earlier this month I charged my daughter’s Grade 5/6 class at St. Joseph’s Elementary with a little assignment: let the readers of the Nelson Star know what Canada means to them.

Ten and 11-year-old children have an ability to bring freshness to something well worn. Still innocent, they stand on the precipice of a hormone avalanche all parents dread.

They have learned plenty to this point and are perceptive enough to understand the world, yet they look upon it with unclouded eyes.

Mrs. Graham’s class didn’t disappoint.

Words repeated in most of the submissions included: beautiful, free, safe, peaceful and secure. I think we can all agree — regardless of age — these words define Canada.

There were a few other gems in the stack of 28 submissions that are worth sharing.

“It means a place that has lots of open space and vegetation,” writes Tessa Timmermans. We are certainly fortunate to live in a country and more specifically a community so full of wild spaces and natural beauty.

“It is a beautiful country. It has lots of sports,” according to Les Trainor. Though we can always do better, Canada is certainly a country where healthy lifestyles are encouraged.

“Canadians are nice. Canada is the best country,” was included in Sophia Kabatoff’s paragraph. If you conducted a worldwide survey, I’m pretty sure Canadians would score near the top of the class on the niceness meter.

“Canada is a place where many immigrants have made their home happily,” came from Sarah Beaudoin. Most Canadians don’t have to trace too far back to find their roots spread from somewhere else and we should never lose our pride in being tolerant.

“Canada is the best place because of the best medical care,” writes Cora LeBleu. Though it certainly has some flaws, our health care system is something that distinguishes our nation from so many others.

“Canada also means a land full of imagination,” is what my daughter Ashley wrote. Our ability to dream and create is what helps fill in the edges around our character.

“Canada is a free democracy. I am lucky that I am an occupant and citizen of Canada. Canadians are loyal to their country and the population is evenly distributed,” asserts Noah Gaffran. Well, I just had to mention this because with that submission Noah is clearly going to be running the show in Ottawa one day.

“Canada is awesome. It is truly the country to live in,” writes Marley Reynold. This pretty much sums it all up.

Those are some of the best lines, but all the students did a great job in helping capture what makes this nation so great.

In the world far removed from elementary school, there is too often an air of cynicism and skepticism. Though this nation is blessed with so much, we adults too often complain it’s not enough.

We get wrapped up in political dogma and ideals that yank us away from truly appreciating what we have and what we can achieve.

So thanks to kids in Mrs. Graham’s class. You may only be 10 and 11, but your wisdom is something we call grab hold of today and in all the days to come.


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