Those words by the exquisite writer Anne Michaels provide a glimpse into the source of Canada’s ingenuity.
You can’t understand Canada without understanding that you are never very far from winter here.
Our ingenuity comes from snow, ice and a harsh cold climate. Yes, it is warming. But it is still pretty cold in most places for a good portion of the year.
Despite winter we survive and thrive. And have created a country well on the way to peace, justice and equity. Not fast enough and certainly with glaring omissions and commissions. We are still learning to take better care of each other as well as our forests, water, air and indeed all life.
For the first 300 years, European settlers survived in the upper half of North America thanks to the helpfulness and generosity of the original inhabitants. From indigenous people we gained a perspective on our interconnectedness. We learned it is nature based and that social innovation, unlike other types of innovation, emerges from adversity. Thanks to indigenous people we also learned to become hunters and gathers of such values as collaboration and cooperation.
These principles guided our actions. Otherwise we would have died. Ultimately they shaped the design of our country. And set us on an imperfect and constant search to preserve and nurture the preciousness that we have in common.
Winter is the source of my country’s innovation. What is the source of yours?
“We need to be more protective of not just our families and children and what is precious to us, but of course the land because we are an extension of that land that we love so much. We must now speak environment, economy, foreign policy, health and human rights in the same breath. Everything is connected.”
Mon pays ce n’est ne pas un pays, c’est l’hiver. (My country is not a country, it’s winter.)