Let’s learn to recognize our nation-builders

We celebrate Canada Day on Wednesday.
Diana Mehta, writing for The Canadian Press on Monday, may have created a stir in reporting on the Dominion Institute’s report that finds Canadians have trouble identifying famous sons and daughters.
Our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, only could be recognized by one in four Canadians even though his portrait is on the $10 bill.
Celine Dion, Wayne Gretzky, and humanitarian Terry Fox are much more recognized than our former politicians. Surprising is the fact that less than half of Canadians recognized our current governor general, Michaelle Jean.
I hadn’t given it much thought until I noticed that few people could recognize Louis Riel (he was best identified in Manitoba).
I know I’ve seen pictures of Riel, and today he often is considered another Father of Confederation, yet searching through my mind, I can’t seem to dislodge an image of the man.
I have pictures of in my mind of Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark, Kim Campbell, John Turner, John Diefenbaker, Lester B. (“Mike”) Pearson, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
And I guess that because I like to follow politics, the faces of prime ministers and premiers in my generation are remembered.
Crossing over to sports celebrities, I would be hard-pressed to identify more than one or two players in the NHL or NBA. I can recognize a few golfers who play the PGA while my recognition of performing artists is very limited.
I started to realize that I am a middle-of-the-road Canadian in recognizing famous sons and daughters. The faces I recognize are from my generation. Younger Canadians will have a different set of faces they will recognize.
Still others whose interests are sports or the arts will have a different set of faces they will recognize.
I wonder if we were to post the pictures of all the district’s current municipal mayors, reeves, and councillors, as well as First Nations’ chiefs, how many could any resident be able to identify.
I realize that I’ve always had trouble putting names to faces. I know that I have met them before and that they know me, but connecting those two dots is sometimes painful.
Tomorrow, as we celebrate Canada Day, take some time to think about the people who have helped make Canada a great place to live. Take some time to give tribute to the volunteers and leaders of your communities who have made a difference in the towns across the district.
They, too, are community builders and nation builders, and should continue to be recognized.
Let’s try and put faces to those individuals so that future generations can know and recognize them.

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