I’ve just returned home from the First Night celebrations downtown. It was so wonderful to see Victorians together, at the inner harbour, marking the turning of the year to Canada’s 150th birthday.
As I was reflecting in advance of this evening, I thought about other places in the world where gatherings in the streets are broken up by gunfire, where girls still don’t have a right to education, where the air quality is so bad it’s difficult to breath sometimes. And then, I thought about Canada.
Canada’s not perfect. We need to close the gap between rich and poor, reconcile with our First Nations, and grow our economy in a truly sustainable and inclusive way. But in Canada, we’ve had 150 years of relative peace, prosperity and acceptance of diversity. Tonight as I gathered with Victorians, and as other Canadians gathered in cities across the country, I realized, once again both my blessing and my luck in being born Canadian.
But we’ve still got lots of work to do. To mark Canada’s 150th in a meaningful way, tomorrow morning at City Hall, the City of Victoria will officially proclaim 2017 as the Year of Reconciliation. We will begin a journey of truth telling, deeping understanding, healing, and moving forward together with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on whose territories the City of Victoria was founded.
For Canada’s 150th the City of Victoria will also be participating in 3 Things for Canada, inspired by my colleague Mayor Nenshi in Calgary. We’ll launch this early in the new year and hope you will join us.
In closing, my wish for Victorians in 2017 – and the very best birthday present we can give to Canada for her 150th birthday – is that we treat each other with kindness, and love each other well. Happy New Year!