FACE TO FACE: Celebrating Canada, each in his own way
My colleague opposite and I have decided to drop the proverbial boxing gloves this week and to write about a subject very near and dear to both of our hearts.
In commemoration of Canada Day, instead of musing about how to run the country, we agreed we would write about how great this country is and how lucky we are to be Canadian.
My family's path to Canada is little different from my colleague's but similar to hundreds of thousands of others.
My parents were born and raised in Uganda, an east African country that, in 1971, was taken over by the brutal military dictator Idi Amin.
Amin tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and, in the summer of 1972, issued an edict that all the Israelis, Europeans and Asians who were living in Uganda had to leave the country within 90 days.
At the urging of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian government accepted my parents along with 7,000 other Ugandans who essentially had nothing but the clothes on their backs.
I often hear stories about how scary it was for them, being in a strange land thousands of miles from home, away from their families (my parents' families were sent to England) and with no money.
Thankfully, the government housed them, fed them and took care of their health needs until they were able to support themselves.
Today, my parents and their children - my brother and I - are all hockey-loving, taxpaying Tri-City residents positively contributing to Canadian society.
This is the Canadian dream.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, there aren't too many days that go by where we don't remember Canada's gift to our family. We are humbled to have been accepted by such a compassionate and caring nation.
We have been blessed to be part of such a wonderful multicultural society where we're not handicapped by the colour of our skin, our beliefs or even our ancestry.
We're thankful to live in a land of opportunity where hard work and persistence are the great equalizers.
And ultimately, we are so proud to be Canadian.
On behalf of my family, happy birthday, Canada. Our Canada.
Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.