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 Canadian soil. 

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 bilingual. 

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.  
Word Guild Award

Word Guild Award


Peter Black said...

Eleanor, thank you for this sensitive, thoughtful and thought-provoking post. Your transnational and cross-cultural experience surely informs your considerations and views. We and our political, societal and spiritual leaders require great wisdom and courage as we advance into the future. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

OH Eleanor, such a good, thought-provoking post that is full of wisdom. I particularly love this line and many should ponder it:

"I wonder how different our country would have been had we come to learn rather than to conquer."

Yes, let's hope for greater possibilities!

Peter Black said...

Thanks for picking up on that line, Glynis. (It stood out to me when I read it, but didn't remark on it.) It is an insightful and corrective point. ~~+~~

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