Canada 2017 - 150 Years Young

This summer marks the sesqui-centennial anniversary of Canadian Confederation, celebrated across the country with elaborate fireworks, parades and picnics, and celebrations of our history and culture. And of course, a shameless parade of commercial goods sheathed in the Canadian Maple Leaf. Nothing wrong with consumer patriotism!
One of the most enjoyable benefits that has come of the 150 year celebration is the free entrance into national parks across Canada through the 2017 Discovery Pass program. Canada is an incredibly vast country with a huge diversity that would take a lifetime to experience in its entirety. Most citizens never visit all provinces and fewer still visit the territories, opting instead for beach vacation with margaritas down south. As enticing as these trips are to folks who spend significant portions of their lives in the Canadian deep freeze, choosing Florida over Fredericton means missing out on some of the most beautiful places on the face of this earth. So many of our Icelandic forefathers and mothers chose this land over a hundred years ago as a place to settle and to create a new life for themselves and their descendants.  We need to embrace it in all its varied scenes and seasons.
Canada has over 40 national parks showcasing the country’s diverse landscapes. These parks include mountains, grasslands, tundra, and boreal forest among other iconic ecosystems. They provide incredible learning opportunities and the ability to experience the world as it was shaped by natural forces rather than agriculture, industry, and urban life. The creation of national parks in Canada began in 1885 when 26 square kilometers was set aside in what is now Banff National Park, a world-renowned tourist destination. Canada’s National Parks system has continued to evolve with the most recent park being added in 2012, the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories.  Every inch that is protected provides an opportunity to learn, discover, respect, and appreciate the land on which we live and depend.
Now may be a better time than ever to enjoy the natural wonders of Canada. Global ecosystems are changing unpredictably at a rapid pace and Canada is no exception. Receding glaciers and Arctic sea ice along with migrating or disappearing flora and fauna means that these treasures may not always be around to enjoy. Initiatives such as the 2017 Discovery Pass are an initiative to renew public interest and curiosity in the natural landscape. It reminds us that beauty exists in many forms in nature and that we have the power to preserve or destroy it. It seems a bit ironic to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday by visiting sites that have been shaped over millennia. We need to remember that 150 years is nothing in comparison to the agelessness of the land that makes up the North American continent. It is a salient reminder that we are guests on this landscape and it would be wise to remain respectful and grateful to our host.