By Heino Molls
In 2003, I celebrated 50 years of being in this country. I immigrated to Canada in 1953. I wrote about it and talked about it probably too much at times. I was so sincere in my gratitude to this country for letting me grow up here and experience Canada, I just couldn’t help it. I saw all the greatness in this nation firsthand. For me, even the word greatness almost seems inadequate to describe how extraordinary and how exciting it was to be in Canada from 1953 to 2003.
When I arrived in 1953, Louis St. Laurent was the prime minister. I was here when Diefenbaker, Pearson and Pierre Trudeau were our country’s leaders. I was here when the Leafs won the Stanley Cup, four times! I was here when Elvis came and then The Beatles and then a string of great concerts and rock festivals.
I remember Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on a podium and shouting; “We will bury you” and how we defied him. I remember our new flag being introduced in 1965. I remember when Canada turned 100 in 1967 and we all had a “centennial project” in the works. I remember watching a man walk on the moon and I remember the FLQ crisis and the line of cars that took the terrorists to the airport. I remember canoe trips up north and I remember travelling this magnificent country by car, many times. I remember being homeless in Calgary. I remember meeting real Angels.
I look back on it all with profound memories and indescribable gratitude, especially for that last guy who put that glorious stamp on the “landed immigrant” documents that let my Mom, my Dad, my sister and I into this country. When I thought back on it in 2003, it crossed my mind that there must have been thousands, maybe even a million people like me.
So that was 14 years ago. I don’t have a significant anniversary of the time I immigrated here. My country does, however. It is celebrating 150 years of existence. We can all debate about when this country really started.
I agree with those who say Canada really became a country in 1862 when John A. MacDonald took part in the legal defence of a man named John Anderson, who was hunted by our American neighbours as a slave. The Americans appealed to British courts for the return of their property. It was successfully declared in a court of law that Canada was in charge of its citizens, not the United States or Great Britain. Canada would decide what was legal property from that day on and it declared that people could not be property here. Mr. Anderson walked out of court and in our country a free man. Canada was then considered a “separate legal entity” with defined borders.
A lot of work had to be done along the way, such as giving women the right to vote, but there is so much more to do for human dignity and rights for all. It is high time to take a hard look at property rights for everyone.
We cannot do this until we have resolved the property rights of the First Nations of Canada. I believe in the suggestion that a dignified way for this process to proceed is through the creation of an additional province for First Nations. If there was a separate jurisdictional province, a “separate legal entity”, where housing, education and all other provincial rights are provided by law to all its residents, then we could have the beginning of a legal body to speak for all First Nations separately and collectively to address property rights and territorial rights as well as housing and education.
This country has been so great to me for all these years but it has taken me all this time to fully realize how much more should be done to really achieve greatness. This does not fall under the scope of the real estate industry and yet it does. What better business community to lend their voice, to call for property rights for First Nations than that of the real estate community?
It is not my place to speak for this industry but I do ask respectfully for everyone in the business, whenever and wherever you can, to please speak about property rights. I can think of no better way to celebrate our 150.