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What does the Commonwealth mean to you?

Categories: Canada, Community, World

School children are taught about Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, but is this time-honoured affiliation front of mind for most adults?

It's a good question to ask today on Commonwealth Day, the annual celebration of the 54-country association founded in 1949.

This year, Queen Elizabeth II called for citizens across the Commonwealth to celebrate their "unique gathering of nations" and the "extraordinary cultural tapestry" within it.

"Our Commonwealth focus seeks to explore how we can share and strengthen the bond of Commonwealth citizenship we already enjoy by using our cultural connections to help bring us even closer together, as family and friends across the globe," the Queen said.

Commonwealth countries espouse common values, such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law and free trade, according to a mission agreed upon by all members in 1971 and again in 1991.

Member countries span six continents. There are 19 members in Africa, eight in Asia, three in the Americas, 10 in the Caribbean, three in Europe and 11 in the South Pacific.

One state, Fiji, is currently suspended. Six nations, of which Yemen is the most recent, have applied for membership. Fifty-two members are former British colonies.

Commonwealth Day is always the second Monday in March - a proposal put forth by Canada in 1976.

"It is not a statutory holiday; rather it is a day of observance by close to one billion persons of their common bonds and the contribution of the Commonwealth of Nations to the creation of a harmonious global environment," Canadian Heritage notes.

What value does Canada's Commonwealth membership have for you, if any? What value do you think membership has for other countries? Have you seen any Union Jacks flying to commemorate Commonwealth Day?

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Canada, Royals, U.K.

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