By Honoré Gbedze, The Afro News, Vancouver, BC :
Citizenship – the duties and responsibilities that come with being a member of a community
After the Second World War, citizens realized how fragile our democratic society can be and took full responsibility to realize what needed to be done constructively to preserve long lasting peace and prosperity in our land.
Over the past decades many that have earned citizenship through their birthright have neglected their true responsibilities of their duties in their communities. This also applies to the new citizens who perhaps are not familiar with living in and being part of a democratic society. Unlike the pioneers and founders of our country who understood the value of citizenship and worked hard to keep the peace and develop our country the way we have it today.
The question is, why is the value of our citizenship being so undermined and it seems that the only purpose for our citizenship is to perhaps boast a travel document that allows us to travel to anywhere in the world? There is such a distinct lack of interest in being active in community or federal service. We need to pay more attention to our interest in our community and know our rightful responsibilities to ourselves and our future generations. If we don’t become active in our duties and keep the flame alive of our forefathers then we are not doing a service to ourselves, our future generations and the world.
We have seen dire setbacks in other parts of the world where citizenship is not taken seriously and we don’t want to have the same situation in Canada. We need to have all Canadian citizens exercise their rights and duties. Observing the minds of today’s Canadian citizen we only seem to have the mindset of receiving but not giving back constructively; thus robbing our future generations of social, cultural and economical richness. We must remind ourselves of the duties of our citizenship.
There are many reasons for the obscure attitudes towards the responsibilities of citizenship. A few people were interviewed on their view of what citizenship means to them one interviewee reported that after living in Canada for thirty years she only today realizes the impact she can make and have on society by being more active on a community level and within the municipality, province and country. She attributed this to the fact that arriving in Canada when she was in her late teenage years and having not received her primary and the majority of her secondary education in this country she never learnt about Canadian history and politics. When she lived in her birth country she did not have the right to vote or a voice in politics, her birthright did not allow her this honor, nor could she travel to any country. As an adolescent when she moved to Canada she was never educated on the benefits of being a Canadian citizen and how one could become more interactive in the daily affairs of community, municipality, provincially or nationally. Also not having the opportunity to go through the full thirteen year curriculum in the Canadian school system she did not learn about the different parties of government and how the parliamentary system works in a democratic world.
Another interviewee reported that he came to Canada in pursuit of a bright future and that he works hard every day to reach his goal. Even after becoming a Canadian citizen he still has to work hard. He added that the benefit of being Canadian is that he participated in this year’s federal election and that it is a very powerful feeling to know that his voice counts and that he can shape Canada’s destiny while striving to do his best to contribute to the social and economic prosperity of Canada. For him it is important to help others to reach their ambitions and goals. He is actively involved in the development of his community and co-founded a nonprofit organization that helps immigrants and Canadians to network, build relationships and facilitate their integration in Canada. He concluded and said that he hopes that his contribution will inspire others and make Canada a better place to live.
Given the facts of these citizens’ experiences we must underline that the first step to making a difference is firstly being educated on the subject of the structure and benefits of Canada’s parliamentary code of conduct. Added to that are three simple Canadian values and that is Volunteer, Multiculturalism and Democracy.
Volunteer becoming one must be taken into deeper consideration as there are so many organizations involved in developing our society on a municipal, provincial, federal and global level that could benefit from the expertise of Canadians who can contribute in a small or large way for the better of our country’s citizens and new immigrants.
Multiculturism this is a vital cornerstone of our society as we are a true diverse nation and this must be taken into consideration for our development for new organized ideas to develop stronger consolidated communities. The future for our society will depend and play on this level and must be taken seriously.
Democracy is one of the best models of good governance that is practiced in our country and therefore it is imperative that all citizens should be involved and exercise their rights and obligations to nourish this good governance in our country.
What is Democracy: free and equal representation of people, the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the majority of the people.
“Democracy is like the experience of life itself – always changing, infinite in its variety, sometimes turbulent and all the more valuable for having been tested for adversity.” Jimmy Carter Speech to Parliament of India.
The original composer of the words for our national anthem was written by Albert D. Watson in 1917, but it has since then been modified. If we refer to these original words then it echoes what our true allegiance is:
Lord of the lands, beneath Thy bending skies,
On field and flood, where’er our banner flies,
Thy people lift their hearts to Thee,
Their grateful voices raise:
May our dominion ever be
A temple to Thy praise.
Thy will alone let all enthrone;
Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own:
Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own!
Almighty Love, by Thy mysterious power,
In wisdom guide, with faith and freedom dower;
Be ours a nation evermore
That no oppression blights,
Where justice rules from shore to shore,
From lakes to northern lights.
May love alone for wrong atone;
Lord of the worlds, with strong eternal hand,
Hold us in honor, truth and self-command;
The loyal heart, the constant mind,
The courage to be true,
Our wide extending empire bind,
And all the earth renew.
Thy Name be known through every zone;
Lord of the worlds, make all the lands Thine own:
Lord of the worlds, make all the lands Thine own!
In conclusion what is the plan for the next fifty years for this country? How ready are we to contribute and to make a difference to benefit the generations of the next fifty years and see the landscape of this new global world?
The future is in our hands and it can only be done by us as we take our individual responsibility passionately.