Rey Rosales is a journalism professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton.
Whether it is a church group, a home association or a group of parents working together to run sporting events, the strong bonds formed by communities from coast to coast to coast are what make this country work.
As a new citizen and a member of the so-called very visible minority, I've always appreciated local communities. They are a microcosm of engaged citizenship and a petri dish for making things work. It is through the soccer league, for example, that families of all stripes and colours (newcomers, the old timers, the Tesla-driving elite, among others) get together and try to co-operate to achieve a common goal.
It makes me smile when parents and their kids try their absolute best to be nice and to avoid saying mean things to each other, especially to the opposing team (with a few exceptions at certain hockey events). Certainly, being nice and polite to others can result in tremendous return on investment by way of lower health-care costs. We all know that there are many countries in this world where minorities suffer from hypertension and all kinds of ailments because of the hostile encounters and negative treatment they get from members of the majority group.
At my children's sporting events, or at church and other groups in my lovely adopted hometown of Edmonton, it is clear that most people understand the power of diversity and share the view that we need to work together to achieve a common sense of progress, peace and prosperity. There is a tacit recognition that inclusion and differences are forms of talent that will make this country the envy of the world and the most globally competitive in the years ahead.
Through the local communities that my family is involved with, we get to know people of different backgrounds and have formed lasting friendships. Summer has become the best time for my kids because they get to ride bikes and spend so much fun time with friends. It is my sincerest hope that the kids in our communities remain colour-blind and not become too influenced by racially jaded adults. And I think the best antidote to our reptilian instinct and the fear of "other" people lies within the power of community.
Finally, I am amazed at the relative peace and quiet that this country enjoys and the freedom it affords to its citizens. It is quite easy to take the day-to-day peaceful living for granted. Any country beyond our borders would gladly pay for law and order if it can only be bought by a nation's wealth.
Yet we all know that aside from the luck of geography, it is the work of citizens as amplified in various communities that make this whole experiment in liberal democracy possible.
As sociologist Robert Putnam noted in his book Bowling Alone, it is the idea of "bowling in leagues" and investing in social capital – fostering strong bonds through family, friends and communities – that forms the very foundation of a strong democracy.
So hats off to fellow bowlers of community action for keeping the faith and keeping it strong on Canada's 150th birthday.