Contributed to The Globe and Mail
To mark the publication of The Idea of Canada, an epistolary new book by Governor-General David Johnston, The Globe invited a range of prominent Canadians to get out their pens – and write letters of their own.
His Worship Naheed K. Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary’s letter:
As we approach your 150th birthday, I’ve never been so proud of you – of your energy, of your kindness and humanity, about the possibility and opportunity you embody for all.
I recently had the great fortune of taking part in a welcome ceremony at Calgary’s City Hall where more than 1,000 newcomers to Canada filled the atrium. They were greeted with a traditional First Nations drumming circle and blessing, welcoming them to the land we now all share.
As I sat onstage, watching this blessing from one of our community’s elders, I looked out into the crowd and was moved to tears when I saw two men holding two large signs. One read, “Thank you, Calgary,” and the other, “Thank you, Canada.”
I thought to myself: This is Canada. This is exactly who we are. The people who have lived and loved on these lands for thousands of years are welcoming those who have just landed looking to start a new life. Our greatest strength is each other, and we are strongest together.
Canada, you have been good to the people of this nation for the past 150 years. For your birthday, I think you deserve a really big gift – or rather, 100 million tiny gifts for you and for the world.
In Calgary, we’ve started something called 3 Things for Calgary. It’s a simple idea that asks each Calgarian to do three things each year to make our community even greater. It could be something as small as cleaning up trash, or hosting a barbecue for your neighbours in your front yard, or something big like joining a non-profit board.
Now, imagine 3 Things for Canada. Imagine everyone of us doing 3 things next year to make our community and our world stronger.
I hope you’ll like that birthday gift. Because, Canada, you deserve it.”
Read letters by other prominent Canadians at The Globe and Mail