Okay, this is a post for all the Canadians out there. Americans have their own problems.
Last year as my family and I toured the federal Parliament buildings we took note of the numerous Bible verses and Christian symbols literally carved right into the rock or wood walls.
My husband facetiously said: “I’m surprised some nitwit hasn’t demanded it all be sandblasted away.”
Luckily, however, our magnificent Parliament buildings are declared National Heritage buildings and can be restored, but not altered. Hallelujah!
Parliament was originally built at a time when the very ideological foundation to our entire way of life in Canada was established, reflecting beautifully the very bedrock of what makes Canada such a great country for its citizens and such a beacon to so many others from far away lands.
Before we visited Ottawa we spent some time in Quebec where a debate had been started by “some nitwit” (OK, it was then Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair) who pushed to have the cross hanging over the Speaker’s throne in Quebec’s National Assembly since 1936, removed so it wouldn’t “upset” minorities. Like Boisclair’s political career, that idea thankfully went nowhere.
Earlier this month, Ed Feuer, a copy editor with the Winnipeg Sun, wrote a Point of View editorial calling on the French version of O Canada to be changed because it refers to the Christian cross.
“It is curious because we want to see ourselves as a welcoming country for new immigrants, many of whom now come from non-Christian majority countries. Doesn’t “Il sait porter la croix” indicate that anyone who isn’t a Christian is marginalized in this supposedly multicultural country?” he wrote.
Supposedly multicultural? We ARE multicultural. We don’t just WANT to see ourselves as welcoming, we ARE welcoming. We’re not perfect, to be sure, but we’re likely the best in the world. So, why is that the case?
Back in July 2002, Pope John Paul II made mention of the French version of O Canada in his first speech upon arriving in Toronto for World Youth Day. This is what the then 82-year-old pontiff said:
“In the French version of your national anthem, O Canada, you sing; ‘Car ton bras sait porter l’epee, il sait porter la croix …”
The full version of the French anthem is translated as such: “O Canada! Land of our forefathers/ Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers./ As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,/ So also is it ready to carry the cross./Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.
THY VALOUR STEEPED IN FAITH
Will protect our homes and our rights….”
So what does it all mean? Pope John Paul II interpreted it this way.
“Canadians are heirs to an extraordinarily rich humanism, enriched even more by the blend of many different cultural elements,” said the pontiff in his shaky voice.
AT THE CORE
“But the core of your heritage is the spiritual and transcendent vision of life based on Christian revelation which gave vital impetus to your development as a free, democratic and caring society, recognized throughout the world as a champion of human rights and human dignity.”
Canada was founded as a free and democratic country, not because it was blessed with large stands of trees, fossil fuels and clear running water — after all, so was much of Africa. It is the envy of the world not because of our weather (heaven forbid!).
Canada is a place that millions — if not billions — of people in the world often risk everything to move to because it is free, and it is free because of its foundation and — like it or not — that foundation is the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Look around the world. Make a list of all the countries people want to immigrate to. What is the one common denominator of those countries? It is not culture, language, climate, or riches. There is only one. It is Christianity.
The former Pope and the francophone anthem is right.
This country’s valour is steeped in faith — the Christian faith. It protects our homes and our rights.
If we continue to chip away at this foundation by denying our history and heritage then we risk losing our freedoms.