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Sunday, July 02, 2017
Happy Birthday, Canada! by Eleanor Shepherd
Today is the 150th birthday of our country. Having
lived in Europe, I am aware that a country that is 150 years old could still be
considered a young country. Yet to me it is marvellous to realize that with all
its diversity our country has managed to stay together for 150 years.
Perhaps being a Quebecer makes me
more conscious of this, because there still seems to be so many challenges of
integrating with one another. Yet I have seen it happen.Through the years, we have returned to
Montreal for a few years each decade and each time we were able to see changes
in the relationships between the two founding European nations that settled on
When we lived in Montreal in the
1960’s, we were becoming aware of a majority French speaking city that had an
English face. By the end of the century, Montreal’s face was French and the
remaining English speakers, had adjusted to that reality and become
What causes me sadness and the
celebrations of this birthday show that many other Canadians also share this
feeling is that while as English and French, we have found a way to live
together harmoniously, those who have been left out are the Canadians who were
already here when the Europeans arrived.
These natives were seen as those
to be exploited and whose contribution to the building of the nation was never
taken into account. Even growing up, we were aware that our First Nations were
not considered the First Canadians.I wonder how different our country would
have been had we come to learn rather than to conquer.
Would we have had a better way to
identify ourselves as a unique people, rather than “not American”? Would they
have helped us carve out a unique way of being Canadian? Would it have made it
easier to deal with language issues, when the challenges would have been coming
to understand many different languages rather than narrowing the discussion to
two European languages? How would the North American continent have been
divided, had we respected the boundaries and non-boundaries that had been
established by those who had established their own civilization?
An awareness of what can be offers
us some interesting possibilities for our future. Canada is no longer two
founding nations. It is no longer even those who were the aboriginal
inhabitants. Our country has been blessed with new Canadians who have come from
the four corners of the world and if we can remain open to each other, with the
kind of welcome that the Scriptures teach us God extends to each one of us, we
may discover great possibilities for the next 150 years.