As we joyously commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Confederation, our Holy Metropolis and the Greek Orthodox faithful in Canada join together with the 36.5 million Canadians to celebrate our remarkable country.
The unrelenting desire and spirit that guided the Fathers of Confederation was one: unity. As Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, remarked at the Halifax Hotel in September 1864, “Everything, gentlemen, is to be gained by union, and everything to be lost by disunion.” Similarly, Mark the Evangelist records in the Bible, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mk 3:25).
This year also marks the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a renowned military victory many have characterized as the birth of a nation for Canada. From the First and Second World Wars, to the Korean conflict and Afghanistan mission, brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces sacrificed their lives so that we may in unity hold and cherish fundamental freedoms and democratic rights.
Canada’s unity helped to foster and cultivate Canadian ingenuity: from life-saving medical discoveries (insulin) to world-changing inventions (the telephone) and countless other contributions, from the sciences and space programs to peacekeeping and the arts.
The Greek Diaspora has and continues to make significant contributions to Canada as well. From business (Mike Lazaridis, creator of BlackBerry) and sports (Alex Anthopoulos), to public service (Senator and former Speaker Leo Housakos) and law (Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Andromache Karakatsanis), generations of Greek-Canadians have embodied the generous spirit of Canada, humbly contributing to a unified and peace-loving society.
On April 17, 1982, when Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II, joined Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau on Parliament Hill to proclaim Canada’s new Constitution before a crowd of over thirty thousand, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms commenced with the following decree: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.
Therefore, in addition to unity, if we are going to truly honour Canada’s sesquicentennial and the men and women whose vision, purpose and zeal allowed for the flourishing of The True North strong and free, then we must not distance ourselves either from the “supremacy of God” nor the “rule of law”. We must not distance ourselves from our fellow man by replacing human connections with superficial online interactions. We must not distance ourselves from the hungry, thirsty and naked in society, for every person, without exception, including the unborn, is made in the image and likeness of God. We must not distance ourselves from the need to care for God’s creation, our planet earth, which nourishes and sustains life. And we must not distance ourselves from the moral teachings that cemented Canada’s strong foundation.
Let us recall the apt and ever-pertinent words of Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate Lester B. Pearson, who delivered the following remarks during the Lighting of the Centennial Flame in our nation’s capital on December 31, 1966: “Tonight we begin a new chapter in our country’s story, Let the record of that chapter be one of co-operation and not conflict; of dedication and not division; of service, not self; of what we can give, not what we can get. Let us work together as Canadians to make our country worthy of its honoured past and certain of its proud future. God bless Canada.”