Canadian citizenship: A new beginning

‘I feel more emboldened’

By Michael Lashley

Editorial Page Editor and columnist Michael Lashley has joined the swelling ranks of immigrants to Canada who enjoy citizenship and the many benefits and challenges that presents.  Gerald V. Paul Photo.
Editorial Page Editor and columnist Michael Lashley has joined the swelling ranks of immigrants to Canada who enjoy citizenship and the many benefits and challenges that presents.
Gerald V. Paul Photo.

I speak of the opportunity and the freedom to assume the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship.

As of Wednesday, April 8, 2015, I can fully share in the spirit of a caring society whose commitment to respect for the fundamental rights of all its citizens and residents is constitutionally embedded in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That is quite a mouthful. And it is quite a challenge, in more ways than one. But then, I have never been known to shy away from my personal challenges.

This new legal status as a Canadian citizen has to be married with my ongoing challenges so that the new successes that I claim will be achieved with the passion and the multi-cultural and multi-lingual activism that have always defined me.

I am not dreaming of Utopia but rather of a more secure base from which to make greater contributions to notre espoir, notre liberté et notre citoyenneté.

All of this means that I feel more emboldened.

I am now a full partner in the mission to promote Canada’s long-term social and economic growth and development. I feel empowered to teach at university and community college and to push the envelope on public policy in such fields as education, immigration and youth development.

Especially from a government’s viewpoint, I can now represent Canadian exporters more effectively.

As a media commentator and a member of the Editorial Board of this community newspaper, I advocate with renewed vigor for participatory democracy through the life-long practice of pro-active public information and pro-active community education.

By setting the example myself, I am encouraging all immigrants to become citizens, to exercise the right to vote and to immerse themselves in community-building.

As I move my field of operations beyond the boundary of my previous incarnations as a university academic and later a career diplomat, I am confirming my status and role as a global and globalized citizen of Canada, a second country that is as diverse and multi-cultural as the global village that it has become.

So I have to develop the thick skin required here in the True North as I join my fellow Canadians in the herculean task of re-inventing Canada. How do I go about getting them to accept that all forms of “social contract” must be the result of meaningful consultation and meaningful negotiation?

Without these two elements there cannot be justice, equity or security.

How do I survive the equally painful task of getting them to understand, then to act on the strategic key to unlocking Canada’s enormous potential?

Innovation is that key and it is not just research in applied natural sciences. It is a way of thinking and behaving and also includes research in the Social Sciences. It is as much art as it is social engineering.

In the words sung by Ann Murray, I fully endorse our collective commitment to each other: “You needed me.”

In the words sung by David Rudder and re-engineered by me, I ask myself an important question: “As I hear a distant drum, bouncing on the laughter of a melody, am I ready for a brand new discovery?”

The answer is clear: I bring to my Canadian enterprise “a living vibration, rooted deep within my Caribbean belly.”

Amen.

Michael Lashley
Michael Lashley