That description has earned Brake, a Level 3 student at Corner Brook Regional High, the opportunity to represent the Corner Brook Rotary Club in the Rotary Adventure in Citizenship Program in Ottawa.
“It’s a comfort in a way to feel a part of this family that Canada is,” said Brake in the speech she presented to the club during its annual Adventure in Citizenship competition at the Glynmill Inn on Thursday.
“To feel like you’re all in it for the good of each other. To me, Canada means home.”
Read the full text of Brake's speech below
While Brake was the lone participant in the competition, the diversity of the topics she touched on earned compliments from the judges who felt she will represent the Corner Brook club well in Ottawa from April 27 to May 1. The program in the nation’s capital is hosted by the Rotary Club of Ottawa.
While she’s no stranger to speaking in front of people — she’s hosted several school events — the speaking competition was a first for Brake. It was something she got interested in after attending this past September’s Canadian Student Leadership Conference (CSLC) in Saskatchewan.
“When I looked into this program I thought, ‘Well that seems really similar,’ and I really enjoyed CSLC,” said Brake. “I just knew that I would really enjoy doing something like this.”
But the opportunity to visit Ottawa was the big draw.
“I really want to go to Ottawa,” she said. “It’s just such a wonderful experience and chance that they’re giving away.”
She’s particularly interested in visiting the House of Commons and other places of interest in Ottawa.
“I get to meet about 220 different people from across Canada who have common interests to me.”
What Canada Means to Me
By Lauren Brake
Thirty-four million, four hundred and eighty-two thousand, seven hundred and seventy-nine. That’s how many people are in our great Canadian family. When asked what Canada means to me several things come to mind. Our freedom, our multicultural background, our health care, our hockey teams and many other great things along the way. Canada means so much to me as a nation and as my home.
I can discuss any controversial topic in this speech that I want, why? Because as a Canadian I have the freedom to say what I want to say. We have a tremendous level of freedom as citizens of Canada as we are all treated equally. Being free in Canada means not being afraid, it’s the ability to walk down the street and not having to worry about getting hurt. It’s not having to worry about gun control and it’s feeling safe every day in every way. To me, Canada means being safe and free.
Diversity is essential in the Canadian mosaic. As a country we have people from all over the world, so it makes sense that we are considered to be the world’s most multicultural country and Toronto is the world’s most multicultural city. Even a city the size of Corner Brook has immigrants from as far away as the Philippines.
Canada solidifies its place as a multicultural hub by having two official languages: English and French. They are the main two languages spoken by Canadians and most of us know at least the basics in both. Also both languages are taught in all schools across our country.
But to me what makes Canada truly unique is our aboriginal languages. There is over 60 different aboriginal languages in our country and over 200,000 people speak an aboriginal language as their mother tongue. Many speak Cree or Innu which is so different and special to our country. To me, Canada means I am part of a greater mosaic of people.
Canadian health care means so much. Canadians receive free health care as a result of the taxes we pay to the government. Though I hear so many people disagree with this, saying things such as “We shouldn’t be subjected to paying for something we don’t use.” I strongly disagree.
In April of 2012 my father had a heart attack, and because of the taxes he paid in for the past 27 of his working years, he wasn’t faced with a hundred thousand dollar hospital bill after being treated at both Sir Thomas Roddick and the Health Science Centre after being airlifted to St. John’s and having a stint put in. You can’t complain about having to pay a small amount of money in exchange for the health of a loved one. To me, Canada means a healthy family.
The next issue is a fun one for me. Canada is a nation where you can form a bond with someone you never met through one thing: hockey. As a passion we can all be brought together by a mutual love of the sport.
Who didn’t feel the sense of pride when Sidney Crosby scored the final goal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the Canadian team won. I know I did! To me, Canada means having pride together as a nation towards our official national sport.
As much as I love these wonderful things about our nation, there are so many other things I love as well. For example, I love our open spaces. We have less than four people per square kilometre in Canada versus some extremely high numbers in other countries. With so much space to roam in Canada it could take a lifetime to see it all.
And, of course, who doesn’t love the Canadian classic Tim Hortons. There’s something unique about having a coffee shop as a symbol of our country.
But what I love the most is the assumption of us all being so nice. You travel to another country, you always hear “oh all you Canadians are so nice! What a thing to be known for as a nation. That’s admirable. To me Canada means open spaces, a common love of coffee and being known for our kindness.
So that’s it. Canada is such a wonderful country to live in and be a part of. To be a Canadian means to love freedom, diversity, health care, hockey, open spaces and kindness. It’s a comfort in a way to feel a part of this family that Canada is. To feel like you’re all in it for the good of each other.
To me, Canada means home.