Canada's 150 - My Canada

Posted by Birgit Wartenberg, Margaret Seu, Neil Britton on Jul 31, 2017
Three (3) Rotarians were asked to speak about their Favourite Canadian Moment.  We all have different things to celebrate and Connie introduced Birgit Wartenberg, Margaret Seu and Neil Britton. 
Birgit and her husband moved to Canada 20 years ago, in 1996 and one of her loves now about Canada is the space.  Ontario is 1.1 million square km with a population of 13.6 million people.  Germany is 358,000 square km with a population of 85 million people.  Birgit definitely appreciates the space and vastness of Canada.  She also loves the friendliness of the people and the fact that they are almost always very nice, even those in authority. Even if you get a speeding ticket it a "nice" speeding ticket.  Different in Germany.  In 1996 they bought a 50 acre farm in Beaverton and moved from Germany to Ontario that same year and had a 40' container with all their belongings shipped to Montreal and then trucked to Toronto customs in December.  A big problem was that they did not have their permanent resident card yet so they were worried about clearing their container.  The customs official waved them in, looked at their documents and said "I assume you bought a cottage and want some European furniture and supplies" to which they quickly agreed and their papers were stamped and they were officially welcomed to Canada!  Birgit loves the wildlife right on her doorstep -- bears, beavers, blue herons, huge snapping turtles on their driveway, deer, wolves, fishers, muskrats.  One difficulty Birgit encountered was not knowing directions of east or west.  They were living in Germany, but having their home renovated here and one of the construction people called and asked where the power outlet should be installed, on the southwest or southeast side?  In Europe, they go by signs not directions, but Birgit is now familiar with directions and can teach her Europen guests.
 
Margaret Seu is a Korean Canadian who came to Winnipeg on September 15, 1981 one of 100 people being sponsored by the Province of Manitoba.  Over 5,000 people applied and Margaret considers herself to be one of the lucky ones chosen to come to Canada.  Canada is many things to Margaret -- is it land of opportunity, it is her home, where she raised her family and where she demonstrated success in business.  Canada is a land of big dreams and hopes.  When Margaret arrived in 1981 she worked during the day and went to school at night and she is still doing that to improve her English and to learn a little French as well.  Canada is brave with Canadian soldiers not hesitating to go to war zones to fight for the protection of innocent people.  In 1950 to 1953 many Canadian soldiers went to South Korea and many lives were lost.  Canada is safe and peaceful and a haven for many immigrants.  Canada is a land of multiculturalism, where people from all nations, cultures, religions and races come together.  Canada accepts people from all backgrounds with tolerance, openness, differences are accepted and celebrated and Canada welcomes less fortunate people from many countries.  Ontario is 10 times larger than Korea, vast and beautiful.  Coming to Canada 36 years ago was a dream come true for Margaret and it continues to be a dream come true for many newcomers to Canada today.  Margaret loves her Canada!
 
Rotarian Neil Britton did not have any favorite or special moments as a Canadian born in Canada, he was blessed by winning the greatest lottery.  He sees Canada as a continuing Work in Progress.  We have the freedom to recognize and acknowledge our deficiencies and needs, and make amends through the democratic process. Neil was born in 1930 and while he does not remember conditions at the start of the Depression, he does remember the effects as he was growing up.  While there was much hardship, people took care of each other as best they could and over the years the public social systems we have today are the result of people recognizing we have some responsibility for others. The village in which he grew up was a typical Ontario community of about 750, almost all of British Isles ancestry.  His first reader in school was “Mary, John and Peter” and its first page was the Union Jack.  Each Remembrance Day they marched seven blocks from the school to the Community hall and cenotaph to remember those killed in WWI and beginning in 1939, also those serving and killed in WWII.  Although the high school he attended only had two teachers, they had a Cadet Corp and all participated.  Their National Anthem was “God Save the King” and they stood at attention when it was played and sung. At the end of the war Canada had a program whereby returning Veterans were able to attend university, a very big factor in enabling the country to meet the rebuilding challenges faced as a result of the Depression and the war effort.  When he entered University it was the first year that non-Veterans were accepted in residence – in their house of over 50, only eight were non-Veterans and when he was in his final year there were only three Veterans.  He has always admired the Veterans for being able to return to studies after their experiences and time away from studies.  It has been to our benefit. Except for our Indigenous Canadians, we have all come from elsewhere, and particularly since WWII we have received immigrants from all nations.  His home village and our country are now multicultural and we are more prosperous and stronger for it. Vivian and Neil have had the privilege to travel across Canada, experiencing the varied scenery and peoples from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia.  Also, from Whitehorse and Dawson City, YK to Inuvik, NT via the Dempster Highway.  Then flying over the Mackenzie Delta to Tuktoyaktuk, where Vivian put her foot in the Arctic Ocean.   Neil admits that he maybe felt most Canadian in the 1967 era with Expo ’67, the adoption of the Canadian Flag and Canada’s parliament approving of “O Canada” as the National Anthem, even though it was not official until 1980. Canada has been good to him and he hopes he has been good for Canada.