Act for Freedom 2017: Roberto Martella

May 1, 2017

Roberto Martella




Roberto Martella

Roberto Martella

Diritti e doveri, Italian for rights and responsibilities, characterizes how I feel about citizenship. So-called “Canadian values” are not stagnant and Canada’s psyche continues to undergo significant development as we grow into a more diverse and global society. It has not always been thus. Our history is characterized by instances where we have been unsympathetic to refugees, where we have interned people (many citizens), etc.

The responsibilities to Canada, a progressive and humane country, come with challenges. Two highly significant moments in our recent history include our new flag in 1965 and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. There are both aspirational and concrete symbols, embraced by most, which serve as a challenge to Canadians to further realize their humanistic destiny. An example where this has been borne out has been our commitment and success in welcoming and integrating Syrian refugees.

One need only look at the First Nations files to be humbled and haunted about what remains within our reach to achieve.

There is a certain amount of insecurity around our identity which challenges us. A hegemonic cultural and economic power and friend makes us question, perhaps overly so, our self-worth. In fact, one might look to the Americans and revel in certain recent cultural manifestations such as the Museum of African American Museum of History and Culture and the 911 Memorial and Museum, signs of a culture struggling with its past for a more evolved future. Recently our national expressions have included considerations for museums and memorials that don’t truly address our past, present, and future selves. As these selves become increasingly diverse, our national dialogue must embrace the new and encourage the transformation of the Canadian identity. This insecurity leads some to hunker down and limit the scope of Canadian identity to a time, probably illusory, when things were more easily defined. It is only a matter of time before a proper and sensitive memorial is realized for our First Nations. A time of reflection and renewal.

We welcome people from the world and we have appetizingly “appropriated” the foods of the world. It is time that we, for example, embrace the languages of the world, commencing with our own two official idioms so that we might give credence to our special global position and cultivate and encourage the richness that people have brought to Canada. This will allow us to further talk and trade with the world.

Accountability is the concept behind my comments above. The ability to incorporate our past, our transformation and our constantly evolving DNA which defines Canada, its relationship with our people and with our world. Diritti e doveri indeed.