Happy Canada Day.

Canada Day and this entire week is a very important time for all Canadians to come together and celebrate being part of such a special country.

As a Canadian myself, around this time, I am often arranging tours of the Parliament Buildings for family members and friends who are visiting Ottawa. I am so proud and feel incredibly privileged to be able to share with them and all Canadians, my place of work in Parliament.

In my family, Canada Day is also a reminder for us to spend time with one another. Usually, I would be buying groceries and preparing to cook up a storm, as we gather together over the celebrations and various events taking place on the Hill, the finale of which is the spectacular fireworks in the evening.

Finally, at the end of the day’s occasions, I proudly return home, exhausted but humbled and honoured to be able to celebrate this great country.

It goes without saying, that this year’s celebrations will undoubtedly be different. Since the pandemic, virtually every part of our lives has changed. However, now more than ever, we must find reasons to be proud of our country. When doing so, we must also ensure that every Canadian feels a sense of belonging and that they are cared for by their fellow Canadians.

A big part of our new normal has been starting every morning listening to our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau telling us how our he and our Government are supporting our futures during this terrible crisis.

Every day, our Government is making clear it supports Canadians. One of the ways it is doing so is by ensuring they have enough money to buy groceries for themselves and their families, in the midst of the financial crises posed by COVID-19. Now, our Government is not perfect, but particularly in the global context, we must commend their efforts to be there for all Canadians during this time.

In following with our new routines, we are also spending far more time at home, with our family members. We can have breakfast together and plan our days together. We have had time to play board games together; to go for walks together and to reflect on the future of our family and our country, together. I feel beyond blessed to have had this time with my own family.

Another one of the most amazing experiences I have had is receiving a message of kindness from people across our country. I have received phone calls of concern, offers to purchase and deliver my groceries, and even a kind call from someone simply saying they care.

Further, now that we are finally able to go on walks and engage with our beautiful surroundings, I am so proud to see how kind and thoughtful people have been. When I have shared a path, while still maintaining social distancing, I have always heard a kind word from someone. That is my Canada.

Most importantly perhaps, has been the way this time has allowed us to reflect on our country’s past, in order to strategize and build a more inclusive and welcoming future for Canada.

We have had the time to watch the video which depicted a tragic and unjustified death of yet another black man in America, George Floyd.

We have had time to watch the ripple effects of Black Lives Matter protests which began in the United States and rapidly went global.

We had the time to listen to the desperate calls for action and change from racialized and non-racialized Canadians, alike.

And, we still have time to reflect on how we can all work to create a more inclusive and holistic society.

Canada day is a day for Canadians to come together to celebrate being part of our great country. After these celebrations, we must continue to use our time to reflect on how we can keep making our country great.

This year, our thoughts and actions will have an unprecedented impact on our collective future. Let us prioritize our energies on how we can best ensure greater inclusivity in our country, during and post-pandemic. All Canadians have a responsibility to be part of this critical conversation.

Please participate in this ongoing discussion and help us realize this vision, while simultaneously ensuring no voices are left behind and no individuals’ lived experiences, particularly those of racialized Canadians, are ignored.

If we are unified and all feel we belong in Canada, our participation will only make us stronger.

If we are all included in these national dialogues, then our country too will be stronger.

I wish all Canadians and their families, a Happy Canada Day, and I look forward to us forging a better future for our country, together.