On every July 1st since 1867, Canadians have paused to reflect upon our glorious country, appreciate its position in the world, and prepare to chart the way forward.
Every good Canadian should have countless reasons why they are proud to be Canadian. Today I offer just five of the innumerable reasons why every Canadian should be proud of their country.
1. Newfoundland - Of all Canada's provinces, Newfoundland may have been the most reluctant.
It took two referendums for Joey Smallwood to lead Newfoundland into joining Canadian Confederation in 1949. His success in doing so has enriched both Canada and Newfoundland to a magnificent degree.
Within Canada, Newfoundland has enjoyed a more prominent place in the world. Just as with Canada's other provinces, Newfoundland has been stronger with the rest of Canada than facing the world alone.
Nearly any Canadian who has ever met a Newfoundlander can attest to the tremendous generosity and wonder of their character. The heart and soul of Canada can be found in Newfoundland: a fiercely self-reliant spirit grounded in family and community.
2. The Snowbirds - Since their founding in 1954, the Snowbirds -- Canadian Forces Flying Training School Formation Team -- have consistently been judged as the best in the world.
Flying CT-114 Tutor aircraft in an era in which other teams, such as the United States' Thunderbirds fly far-more glamorous aircraft (the Thunderbirds fly F-16s), the Snowbirds have dazzled audiences across Canada and the world over with eye-popping performances of precision flying that have set the global standard of excellence.
3. Michaelle Jean - Since becoming Canada's Governor General, Michaelle Jean has come to dazzle international leaders.
Both French President Nikolas Sarkozay and US President Barack Obama have fallen under the spell of Canada's own marvelous Michaelle.
Jean and her family fled Haiti together in 1968, leaving the oppressive regime of "Papa Doc" Francois Duvalier behind them. Jean would eventually study at the University of Montreal before departing on an international regimen of study that included the University of Florence and the Catholic University of Milan.
She would eventually marry Jean-Daniel Lafront, a separatist, and would even be spied on camera toasting a sovereign Quebec with him.
Despite the initial outrage voiced by many Canadians that such a woman would be appointed Governor General, Jean proved her loyalty and commitment to Canada.
She has also proven to be incredibly resilient under controversy. She managed to escape not only the controversy over her alleged separatist sympathies and her decision to prorogue parliament rather than hand the seat of government over to a hastily- and ill-conceived Liberal/NDP coalition.
Michaelle Jean is a shining example of modern Canada: an immigrant, highly educated, highly accomplished, and graceful under fire. Michaelle Jean is proof that there is still hope for the noble experiment that is Canadian multiculturalism.
4. The Inuit - It may be odd that in a country like Canada, which is so often associated with ice and snow, even by its own citizens, that the arctic can so often be so distant in our imaginations.
According to political scientist Michael Byers, the Inuit people represent Canada's claim to sovereignty in the arctic region. Even more than this, however, there is something distinctly Canadian about the character of these rugged and honourable people. Their resiliency and generosity of spirit reflect the best things about Canada.
Canadians should be proud to share our great land with such wonderful people, but should also remember to temper that pride with the knowledge that the Inuit have often been neglected, and often been flat-out mistreated.
5. CFL Football - The constant speculation about the National Football League coming north has led to musing about the demise of the Canadian Football League.
One shouldn't count on it. Canadians have proven to have an apetite for football during the summer months, and many appreciate the unique nature of the Canadian game.
The rules of the CFL are designed to optimize the competitiveness of the game, not protect the NFL's highly-paid player assets. By comparison, the average CFL player is a blue collar player, working a job for the remainder of the year.
Highly-paid stars like Ricky Ray and Kerry Joseph are fewer and further between in the Canadian league.
Many University football stars who don't make it into the NFL and opt not to play arena football come north to play in the Canadian game. Some of the notable players who have come north include Mike "Pinball" Clemons, Warren Moon (who would later go on to star with the Green Bay Packers) and Doug Flutie.
Some star players return to the United States after leaving the Canadian game. Many American players, however, fall in love with Canada and decide to stay.
Each player who stays stands as a testament to the lure of our wonderful country.
As with last year's list, this is only part of what Canada means to me.
No number of items on any number of lists could ever encompass everything this country means to me.
Once again, have a happy and safe Canada Day.