On the Canada Day long weekend, Canadians gathered with their families and friends to celebrate our country. This was not only a celebration of our past, but also a celebration of our future. There has never been a better time to be Canadian.

Canada is a nation like no other. We are the true land of opportunity, a place where anything is possible.

In Canada, no matter where you come from, no matter your background or your history; you have the chance to reach your highest potential. This is rare in our world, and it is why Canada is special.

This truth is evident in the fact that Canada welcomes more people to our shores than almost any other nation on earth. Newcomers from around the world arrive in Canada with a sense of hope and optimism, ready to make the most of the opportunity our great nation affords them. In doing so, they add to the fabric of our society and enrich our culture. Right here on our campus we welcome students from all corners of the earth, students drawn to Canada by our abundant opportunity.

Beyond financial opportunity, people are drawn to Canada because we are a nation that believes in freedom. Our respect for economic freedom, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech has helped us develop a society unlike any other. We are diverse without being divided. We respect individuals yet understand community. We advance without abandoning our traditions and lessons of the past, as evidenced by our enduring commitment to the unifying institution of the Monarchy.

We are also a compassionate nation; the efforts of our troops in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake struck, and the generosity and kindness of spirit of countless individual Canadians expressed every single day in moments both large and small is something that is not to be forgotten. For these reasons, and many others, our nation is known throughout the world for our compassion and generosity toward those in need.

It is because of the efforts and sacrifices of previous generations, that we have inherited so much. In two world wars, through a great depression, and through countless challenges and obstacles, previous generations of Canadians built the Canada we know today, a nation that is a beacon for the entire world. Here, we are free to achieve our goals and dreams, and amazing opportunities await us if we reach out and seize them.
The peace and freedom we enjoy does not come without a price.

This price is paid in the sacrifices of Canadian men and women in uniform, and in the grief of the family members they leave behind. It is a price also paid in subtle ways, whether it is the knot of worry in the stomach of someone who’s loved one is stationed in a distant land, or the sadness felt by a child who grows up without their mother or father. Our soldiers willingly put themselves through danger, and endure great distances from their families so that we may live in safety close to our loved ones. As we celebrate the blessings of our country, it is essential that we remember those who make it possible.

As Canadians, we tend to be humble about our success, and we are reluctant to boast or brag. But we have much to be proud of. We are part of an amazing country, a growing country of limitless potential and opportunity. Working together to fulfill our shared potential and build upon our opportunity unites us and brings us together.

This vast, beautiful, prosperous nation is our shared inheritance. If we make the most of this moment in history, we will look back on this time knowing we built on the opportunity left to us by past generations. We will look back with confidence knowing that Canada will always be what it is today: the greatest nation on earth.

Spencer Fernando is the comment editor for the Manitoban.