Canada 97/150: Jeff Melanson

By Jeff Melanson

I am increasingly becoming aware that my experience of being Canadian consists of living in a continuous process of awakening - of being reminded of what I do not or could know, while at the same time being presented with every opportunity to learn and grow. As a young Canadian, I was entranced by the idea that we were somehow part of a more highly evolved society based on our relatively unique model of liberal democracy. Now I am coming to see not only the challenges therein and the work required to live up to Canada’s potential, but also the context of the country as an opportunity to not only celebrate diversity, but also to continuously learn, to confront blind spots, and to embrace opportunities for sustained growth based upon being challenged on every level. The truth is none of us really knows much of anything and our great country has wondrously come to offer us the widest possible array of physical, human, environmental, cultural and spiritual opportunities to deeply experience the depth and breadth of human potential, meaning and endeavour.

While our path has at times been shameful, we have opportunities to reconcile, heal and hopefully also listen to and learn from the deep and profound values of our indigenous people among others. We are blessed that our indigenous people, elders and wisdom keepers will still share their truths and knowledge with us despite generations of abuse and neglect.

Canada has stumbled mostly to a good place. The next 150 years present the opportunity to fully build a society committed to protecting and preserving the natural world, while redefining a sense of nationhood characterized by a commitment to learn and grow from the best of and in each of us. We are poised to create a society committed to acknowledging our limits while learning from each other, to healing past wrongs so that all may grow and contribute healthfully, to learning from our indigenous peoples about the sacredness of our natural world, to ensuring that everyone and every newcomer has a voice and values the lessons each of us brings to a process of enduring positive evolution. An open and learning Canada can be a model society with a real focus on what matters - a full expression of the truth and beauty of humanity and a reverence for the natural world. Our socio-economic success would then become grounded in mutual respect and understanding of all Canadians, while creating the conditions for true and lasting innovation, renewal and sustainability.

Our indigenous origins call us to reconnect with the land and spirit. Our pioneering past may well lead us to new frontiers in human consciousness, cultural understanding and society building.

That is the Canada the world needs. That is the context that has been built over the past 150 years and the opportunity before us.


Art and Inclusion - Jeff Melanson on the CRRF's National Conference panel