Without question, any article written about what has happened in Canada over the last week must begin by paying tribute to Cpl Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Office Patrice Vincent and their senseless deaths.
Also not to be forgotten is the bravery and tremendous efforts of those first-responders who put their lives on the line everyday to protect our rights, freedoms and norms as citizens of Canada. Unfortunately, I fear for our distinctly Canadian qualities as our country wades forward into the aftermath of these terrible events.
Canada is a multi-cultural country and this is a blessing. As a Canadian I like to think that Canada’s view on the world is different, that it has depth, is balanced and above all measured. I like to think that it is defined by the experience of our immigrant ancestors, by the value we place in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but most importantly by the multitudes of nationalities, religions and cultures that make up our country.
In Canada we thrive on our pluralism.
It is impossible to consume any information on the subject of the events of this past week without some mention of the phrase “this changes everything.” In some instances, it refers to a review of security measures at Parliament Hill, For others it is in reference to the future role of the CCIS in national security.
The threat that the words “this changes everything” represents for Canada, however, is the risk it poses to Canada’s commitment to the value of pluralism. It undermines what should be the complete and utter disassociation between the actions of the shooter and the multitudes of Muslims across Canada. Furthermore, we must ensure that what has happened will not undermine the fundamental values that have shaped this country.
In the days following the tragedy, we learned more about the shooter, his motivations and that he was working alone. For many, the grief and shock has transitioned to pain and anger. It is in this time that we must remember what it means to be multi-cultural, to honour our commitment to pluralism, to be measured in our response and above all, to be Canadian.
After all, these are the values Cpl. Nathan Circillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent gave their lives defending.
Image courtesy of Boozysmurf on Flickr