The Three Defining Moments of Canada
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Each individual, family, business, country and so on all had defining moments that have shaped them into their current appearances or outcome. For Canada, the following three defining moments have characterized Canada from a dependent British colony to an autonomous country. In addition, these three defining moments have further pushed Canada towards nationhood, which included the formation of its own identity and a sense of unity. The following events, with those being Confederation, World War II and the declaration of the Canadian national anthem were the three defining moments of Canadian history.
On July 1st of 1867, the passing of the British North America Act indicated that Canada had become a nation. Before Confederation, what we know as Canada today was merely a bunch of scattered British colonies. When the colonies united to form the Dominion of Canada, they were able to depend upon themselves for economic and security reasons. Because they traded goods amongst themselves without tariffs and depended on each other for protection, an initial sense of unity was formed within the new Dominion. This also led Canada to reduce its reliance on Britain and thus became more independent. Canada’s main affairs may have been controlled by Britain at that time, but this event served as a prelude to Canada’s growing nationhood and has spurred this young nation to take its first steps in building its own identity.
The second defining moment was World War II (1939-1945), in where Canada manifested that it was more or less an independent nation away from Britain. Firstly Canada had declared war on the Axis Powers on its own behalf, unlike World War I where Canada was automatically at war due to its colonial ties to Britain. During the war, Canadians of different backgrounds gained a sense of unity when they all took part in the total war effort. Their nationalistic feelings for their own country soared. When the war ended Canada emerged with a new confidence and a highly regarded international status due to their various contributions in World War II, such as the establishment of the BCATP and the success of the convoy systems. Their contributions in major battles such as the Italian Campaign, D-Day and the Liberation of Europe also earned them high respects. In brief, World War II not only united the Canadians, but this event has also brought Canada to be seen internationally as a self-regulating nation.
The last defining moment was when the nation declared O Canada as its national anthem on the first of July, 1980. There is an obvious connection between a nation’s identity and its symbols, as symbols can remind people of their unity and distinct identify. Through the declaration of the official national anthem, Canadians were constantly aware of their identity. The declaration of O Canada as the national anthem has also strengthened Canada’s unity, because it recognized the diverse cultural backgrounds of all Canadians. Furthermore, this event further minimized Canada’s ties with Britain as the British anthem of God Save The King would no longer be sung by Canadians. To sum it up, this event has bolstered Canada’s nationhood and the overall unity and patriotism of Canadians.
The three defining moments mentioned above were crucial to Canada. These events have ultimately set Canada as the country it is today — an important middle power nation with its own identity distinguishable from other nations. Through these defining moments, Canada had gradually shed away its colonial past with Britain and developed from a young dependent nation into a self governing country. As ex-Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker mentioned in 1964, “…our policies will be decided in Canada and not dictated by any other country” (Great Canadian Quotes), he was right in the end. Canada eventually did break its colonial ties with Britain and took control over its own internal and external affairs. The three defining moments mentioned above have guided Canada into doing just that. Surely without these three defining movements, what we proclaim as Dominion of Canada today would certainly have been very different.