Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!!
Canada, it’s your Day on July 1st. But wait a minute, what exactly are you celebrating? Do you remember, Canada, on what basis did you build your family? Yes, you started a “family” with three main groups of children … the Aboriginals, then the French, and a bit later those from Great Britain? Oh, and since then, all the newcomers from everywhere!

The beginning of the Canadian family
In the historical record of the family, we can see that, a little after 1760, there was a real and growing possibility that the stronger British colonies to the south probably would separate from British rule. They might eventually want take land to the north. The British were figuring out how to manage their newly conquered French colony, and looking for ways to deal with the original peoples. They also started to bring in English speaking settlers. So it was that in this expansive land, three unrelated families would live. How to manage them and ensure the survival of British North America’s territory?

ENGLISH POSTER DONALD'S BOOKA challenge to manage this blended family
That would be a challenge. The British immediately began to negotiate with the French and the Aboriginals their loyalty to form a united group who could stand against the American colonies. In this spirit, our French religious leaders negotiated the right to live in their Catholic parishes and continue in the French language, culture and Catholic religion, working as farmers, lumberjacks and homemakers. In the same way, the native chiefs were able to bargain for the right to live in their great reserves in their language, and continue in their religion and culture to live by hunting, fishing, agriculture and homemakers. English settlers came to both Quebec and the territory to the west of Quebec, “Upper” Canada because it was further up the St. Lawrence River. Many obtained land grants to farm, but some had trade and business skills, so could establish themselves in service and other commercial occupations in villages, and towns that eventually would become cities, including Montreal and the less important Toronto.

Children living isolated from each other as a family lifestyle
Because of language and culture differences and a fair amount of physical separation as well as the British skill in dealing with each group uniquely, the three “families” lived quite separately and were strangers to each other, or worse. When I traveled across Canada for several years to give lectures on the subject, one question always came back over and over: “Why are Quebec, Aboriginals (now known as First Nations, Metis and Inuit) and the English still living so apart from one another and always negotiating to get more for themselves?”

Bargaining is the mean and the way to relate to each other
In fact, it must be understood that the Canadian family was built right from its beginning on the basis of negotiation. Since 1760, we have created and mainly maintained business and political relationships as a way to live. We have not built the Canadian family on the foundation and values of caring for each other. Moreover, once the war of 1812-14 with the United States ended, the British parents showed no interest in settling the 200 years of wars, conflicts and killings between the still isolated “families” of children who struggled with memories going back to the 1760 Conquest and earlier. Later, the blending was formalized in England after being arranged by political overtures here in Canada that culminated in the 1867 Act of Confederation. The records of this struggling “blended family” still clearly show that we came together to negotiate and often haggle over new territorial, material, financial, and political arrangements. This type of traditional bargaining has built the DNA of our relationships in which we still believe that we can make life work for us today by repeating the same manners.

The children are still hurting from the past
Canada, what’s going on in the family? I heard the other day, on the National Day of Quebec, how much of the heart of Quebec would like to live in a loving family that sees to the welfare of each child and cares, while another part of him would like to leave the family because he thinks he does not find his true place there. I hear the same feelings and words from my Aboriginal friends. The English children, for their part, seem to have obtained the status of somewhat more “legitimate” children and to have achieved a stronger position in the family structure that creates relational tensions. Canada, you are a blended family who suffers because you have yet to fully face or settle the wounds of the past. Canada, do you really believe that the deployment of parties, music festivals, culture, sports, ongoing financial spending and now marijuana will heal the relational wounds that Canadians still carry from generation to generation?

New children adopted: same vision, same lkifestyle, same relational pattern…
Canada, on what basis do you adopt the newest – the fourth – group into our “blended family”? Are you adopting this latest batch of children to use as labor to make up for the economic shortcomings and deficiencies of a troubled, failing system? And what kind of relationship do you have with them? Do you care to develop one? Will it be limited to business relationships and political negotiation like it always been with the French and the Aboriginals? One fact remains obvious: It is not on the foundation of “the love we have for one another” that dominates our relationships but rather what we can extract from each other. It often seems that history is repeating itself…

Where are you going to find happiness?
Canada, does this marriage of 1867 make you a true family? How can you turn the page believing that time will forget the wounds? Canada, how can you persist in promoting happiness in the temporal, material and financial values that have poisoned the relationships between your children and mortgaged their future? Canada, you gave your children a charter of rights to guarantee them full access to all freedoms, but why did you willingly leave aside the “charter of responsibilities” of your children that could have helped to harmonize and balance their relationships? Canada, why did you delegate to a handful of jurists the ultimate authority to determine our values and beliefs and to change our way of life? Canada, despite the fact that you have so much criticized bishops and religious leaders for having dominated our way of life in earlier time, is it much different now as you entrust all the responsibility of the Canadian family to a handful of Supreme Court justices?

Canada, what to celebrate?
Canada, what are all these Canada Day “parties” for when your children still show the symptoms of a “blended” family suffering … Canada, what spiritual legacy will you leave to your children? Canada, what will you really want to celebrate in this July 1st, 2018?

Canada! Here is Good News I long to celebrate:
When I read and inspire myself from the following passages of the word of God, like the Apostle Paul, I can say for myself: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God in salvation and in reconciliation for whoever believes.” ( Romans 1:16; and 2 Corinthians 5: 18-20)

God’s plan for the Canadian family
“ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luc 10 : 27) « God, in his plan of love had proposed beforehand to adopt us for love as his own children by Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1: 5) “To all those who welcomed Jesus, who believed in him and who put their trust in who he is, to all those, he gave the power to become children of God, regardless of their race and blood, and it is by the intervention of God. (John 1: 12) “There you are no longer strangers or guests. You are full fellow citizens with all the other children of God, you are the people of God, set apart for him; you are part of his family. (Ephesians 2:19)”I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Yes, as I have loved you, love one another. It is the mark by which men will recognize that you are my disciples. “( John 13: 34-35)“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5: 18-20)

“ O Canada… God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee… “

READ: “Window of Hope … and Reconciliation”
Author: Donald Gingras
To order the book: (514) 353-1131
or:  donald.gingras@videotron.ca

Heart Cry for Quebec ministry