Oh, Canada! I am happy to be celebrating my first Canada Day as a permanent resident! In the past, I have always celebrated Canada Day as a visitor, and I must say, there is something different about being a permanent resident, eh?

Since I moved to Canada two years ago, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about Canadian history, as I’m sorry to admit, Canadian history was not taught at my school in Colombia, nor did I learn much in Illinois. So, contrary to what many believe, Canada Day doesn’t celebrate “Canada’s Independence,” but rather when three colonies became united into a single country: Canada.

My limited experiences in Canada have only left me with positive reactions. I cannot speak enough about its natural beauty that I’ve encountered on road trips. I am honoured (see that Canadian spelling?) to be surrounded by people who are so proud to be Canadian. They have a true sense of honour, simply because they are Canadian. There is something incredibly inspiring about interacting with people who can proudly love their country.

I am inspired to live in a culture that generally values environmental sustainability. I have met numerous Canadians who will not discard plastic bottles unless they see recycling bins, preferring to bring them home with them than to simply stick them in the regular trash bin. The city of Guelph, where we lived for two years, picked up our compostable garbage on a weekly basis, making composting accessible to virtually every city resident.

And so, as we celebrate Canada Day today with poutine and firecrackers, fairs and festivities in city parks, tell me, dear Canadians, why are you proud to be Canadian?