Who’s standing up for Canadians?

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Back in Grade 5 I had the good fortune of having a teacher who wanted to teach. Her name today is Mrs. Gerald Samson. Mrs. Samson opened my eyes to Canadian history for which I’ve had a love affair these many, many, many years. For countless people like me, being Canadian is more than just saying so, and paying taxes and being a good citizen. Being Canadian is having a deep appreciation of who we are, and how we got here. In other words, how did we come to be?

If you scrutinize historical figures, one of the first things you’ll find is commonalities. To that end, one finds that the commonalities linking radicals and dictators throughout history from Rome’s Caesar, who showcased reenactments of battles won, all of which were staged in the Coliseum, to Hitler’s burning of history books. Do they need to be changed or completely denied true history in order to reinforce their narrow, and hypocritical perception of historical facts? Quebec Sovereigntists today have purloined the battle of the Plains of Abraham in the misguided conviction that today 50 percent of Canadians don’t know about the battle that took place (because we teach little history in schools) and the rest of us are willing to simply roll over and permit them to run ruff shaw over our national history.

Personally, I refuse to curtsy to this form of pure ignorance. Ignorance you see, is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to reestablish. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge, and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant. Fact, 250 years ago this forthcoming summer, after a long and harsh British campaign to impel France out of Canada, a bloody battle with close-range musket fire took place on a field outside what was then the Fortress of Quebec City. Fact, with the eventual signing of the Treaty of Paris, the Plains of Abraham became one of the great battles of not only Canada, but of the world. Enshrined in terms of this treaty, France surrendered all its properties in northeastern North America to Great Britain. Fact, by so doing this ended all French claims to First Nations territory east of the Mississippi. Fact, Great Britain recognized and respected the Catholicism of the population and gave all French settlers up to 18 months to abscond back to France should they so desire. The new rulers furthermore bestowed the Island of Saint Pierre and Miquelon to France (which still hoists the French flag to this day) in order to be the foundation for French fishers.

Many French decided to stay—and why shouldn’t they? These were poor French-Canadian farmers even less educated at that time than most and they only had small land holdings and were subjected to a seigneur system; thus owing him regular payments. Given these facts which are hidden from most Canadians and especially the French-speaking Canadians in the province of Quebec, the separatist Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois, are both unable to see facts for facts but would rather look at the world with pristine eyes. Michel De Waele, a professor of history in of all places, Quebec City’s own City Universite Laval, is quoted as explaining it this way: “The Plains of Abraham have assumed for Quebecers a symbolic stature that dwarfs the battle’s actual historical significance.” The narrow-mindedness and twisted logic of the Quebec Bloc and foggy Separatists can be summed up by PQ MNA Martin Lemay whose deliberations on the issue concluded with ‘no country in the world with any pride celebrates its own defeats’.” What country? Quebec’s not a country, not yet anyway, and if it was only up to me, never. Nationwide polls show clearly that Canadians appreciate the marriages of English and French along with the First Nation People as the foundation to Canada as we know it today.

Canadians see it as unique and are extremely proud and celebrate this uniqueness, well, everyone bar Quebec’s premier and our prime minister. Jean Charest, now a Liberal, once a Conservative, is a premier who says he has left behind all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced as Quebec’s premier, and the new federal government he obeys. But at the first opportunity to support our historical heritage said “he didn’t decide on the historical re-enactment, and wouldn’t attend if it was held.” Au revoir mon amie Englace #@^ Sacrebleu; a coward is a coward in any language, N’est-ce-pas?

Professionally, I have no great expectation that many a Canadian will read our history. I don’t think Canadians for the most part really care what was done in a remote age, by men/women who have long passed, for I understand that given this new citizenship makeup in Canada, there is no real deeper sense of the effect of what is going on today has had or and will have on our historical future. Conversely, our top politician should care and for a day last month I pinched myself for supporting Prime Minister Harper, who literally told the nation that the celebrations on the Plains of Abraham were going ahead and those refusing to understand that Canadians had long ago moved forward, I cheered. But then again I’ve learned not to trust what comes out of this man’s mouth, for the next day upon receiving only Internet petitions and intimidating emails, the event was cancelled.

Is bullying legal in Canada? Can some group threaten to cause harm at a public gathering and not be legally charged? I wish I’d said this first for I can’t think of any way better than to describe Prime Minister Stephen Harper, so the credit goes to Mark Twain: “You take the lies out of him, and he’ll shrink to the size of your hat; you take the malice out of him, and he’ll disappear.” As far as both separatist filmmaker Pierre Faradeau and Gerald Larose of the Conseil de la souveraineté du Quebec who said they’d “crash the party,” both remind me of an eel in the fundamental mud upon which the substructure of organized societies are reared. When they wriggle they mistake the agitation of their tail for the trembling of the edifice. Now that the mud has been stirred up comes Isabelle Fontaine, president of the youth wing of the PQ calling for the Plains of Abraham to be turned over to the Province of Quebec. In the same mud pile now stimulated, comes Pauline Marois calling for their own country. What we needed was a true statesman who would understand the reptile they’re dealing with, not a politician looking for votes.

I ask who’s standing up for Canada now that we’ve waved the white flag. If the Separatists perceived Quebecers would have been humiliated, as they stated, then where do we turn to now that Canada has been humiliated? Before I get to that, I think we need to stop seeing ourselves as immigrants; the fear of Protestants versus Catholics, English speaking versus French speaking, those who imagined themselves as pink or white versus all of those Ukrainians and Jews and Chinese and Japanese.

Why can’t we just see people without seeing all that crap? Seeing and having non-racial ideas, non-linear, so as to be able to base our society on inclusiveness thus bringing into our living experiences the multi-cultural aspect of it all. Is that not Canada’s dream? For the countless time in our Canadian French/English historical relationship comes a First Nation chief to our rescue. Konrad Sioui, Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat has offered to host on the Plains of Abraham, a “treaty of peace and friendship called burying the hatchet,” the enactment of the 1701 Great Peace Treaty in Montreal between France and 39 First Nations, inviting all who wish to participate, the hatchets are buried and a white pine planted over them. From the moment Europeans arrived in Canada, the First Nations people have been saving us. It was only gradually in the nineteenth century, mainly in the second half, that monolithic nationalism, with its ideas of racial purity and the European inheritance, began to throw layers of our society into denial of our past. We need to develop a broader view of our history and in so doing reestablish the teaching of Canadian History in our elementary and high schools, although this time include the history of the Aboriginal people along with French and English. For those who are still devoted to exclusivity and separation, their days finally would come to an end. Looking ahead we need to take a step back and then move forward on a more inclusive constructive pathway.

Again, I ask, who’s speaking for Canada?

Organizations: Parti Quebecois, Bloc Quebecois, First Nations Canadian History

Geographic location: Province of Quebec, Canada, France Rome Great Britain Paris North America First Nations territory Mississippi Montreal

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