The lone sentinel of a forgotten era stands dutifully in its eternal resting place, its roots digging deep into the earth once crowded with many other trees’ roots, now laid bare for farming. The only competition for nutrients, yarn-like tendrils of yearly planted crops. The crops and the roots change often, yet the lone soldier stands strong, never wavering.
It stands in the middle of the field, alone, casting a striking silhouette. Its branches bow in the restless wind, which now whistles unfettered across the open farmland. Its branches creak a solemn soliloquy to its fallen brethren, other trees cut short of their potential.
Seasons unending have unfolded around this sentry since it was lovingly placed into the ground as a seed. It broke through the earth and grew silently alongside a burgeoning nation. It has heard whispers of revolution, cries of victory, and wails of despair, all the while offering refuge to those in need, beneath its broad branches.
The canopy which blows in the wind holds the memories of the birth of a nation or one section of it at least. If we sit underneath its shade, we may still hear our country’s history or one of the other countless tales it has seen.
Since its humble and fragile beginnings, it has grown into something of strength and beauty. It is firm in its grounding, yet flexible to the winds of change. It has its own story and history, yet it allows itself to be used in others’ creativity, in their imaginations, lyrics, photos, art, and stories… much like this one. It puts itself second so that we may thrive, much like a great country does, much like the country it grew alongside with does.
Over the past 150 years, Canada has faced change, upheaval, and has been tested, only to come out on the other side, much like the tree. Canada’s roots are deep, yet its peoples are flexible and understanding. We move with the winds of change, keeping our caring nature whole. When our fellow humans are in need, we reach out and help with open arms, not closed walls.
We live in a country where we must battle nature for six months of the year and have even developed sports to prove our mastery over the cold. We live in large, multi-cultural city centres and in large, multi-species rural centres, and choose to do so without large arsenals of guns.
When people ask, what is Canada’s identity? We can tell them, it is a country that gives you roots and allows you to flex in the breeze. Everyone is welcome to come and maintain your diversity, all the while being a Canadian. We are a country of nations, a country of acceptance, and a country that will stand by your side while the seasons and the crops change.
Just as the tree is ever reaching to greater heights, so too does our country. Canada is only now 150 years and is growing into the future. So long as we respect it, it will stand on guard for us eternally.
If you have a moment, sit beneath the tree and listen to what message it has to pass on to you. What moments in history will it impart to you? Pause and listen to its story, then use it in your own. After all, that is one of the reasons it still stands, a lone(ly) sentinel, watching us stumble into the future as a nation.
Happy 150th, Canada!