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Don’t Take it for Granted

Every day we wake up, is a day we should be grateful for what we have access to. I don’t mean a decent economy, the ability to attain an education or the opportunity of having access to food. I mean, being a Canadian!

As Canadians, we have freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to live in a safe environment. I would be the first to find fault with many policies created in this country, but I have also travelled a great deal and have experienced life in third-world countries or nations where democracy is suppressed.

Canada is a land which offers opportunity, something not available to everyone in the world. My parents and I arrived here without any prospects. However, we were able to carve a good life out for ourselves because the opportunities existed, and they still do.

People from other countries, who happen to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time, make their way here, and many of them succeed because they are rewarded for hard work. I have seen 70-year-old women picking tea leaves in Sri Lanka for $8 a day. I have watched coffee pickers in Guatemala slave away all day for 25 cents a bushel. I was told to put my camera away when taking a photo of the parliament buildings in Minsk or risk losing it, or worse, facing arrest.

I walked through town on Friday and saw a number of signs looking for staff. There is no shortage of jobs and opportunities. Even in my home country of the Netherlands, it is difficult to venture out on your own without being taxed at 75% and being boxed in with what you can accomplish.

This week is Canada Day, and I know we are all grateful for living in a democratic and free nation. Remember, our freedom came at a very high price and something we have to cherish. Work together with everyone who lives here, put jealousy aside, and instead of complaining about what we do not have, think of what we do have.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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