Canada vs. Sweden – Believe Again

Canadians are low key – hardly known for hand over heart bellows of our national anthem, flags flapping in our yards or verbalizations of national pride. We tend to keep to ourselves, quietly minding our own business and speaking politely. We’re used to coming in second, watching from the sidelines and doing our best. There is however one thing we do extremely well – Canada kicks hockey ass.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics can only be described as exhilarating – not simply because it is my home town – I sensed Canadian pride for the first time in my life.  I witnessed a transformation; a shift in our perspective, a collective ripple of identity swelling to waves of confidence. Those games changed us – never have I felt prouder to be Canadian. Like the little engine that could, Canadian media asked us to “believe”. I believe became the anthem of those games –  Canada embraced “believe”, a concept culminating in the Canada vs. USA men’s hockey final.

At game time the city was deserted; not a car, not a sound, not a thought to anything other than “believing” we could do it. Thousands gathered downtown, eyes searching for screens as silent anticipation took hold. Despite a tied game headed for overtime – we still believed.

I’ll never forget the roar, the eruption of sound when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal. Canada changed that day – we learned it was possible to “believe”.

In a few hours Canada faces Sweden in the gold medal hockey final. It doesn’t matter I have to work early in the morning – not to me, not to millions of Canadians who learned believing was possible. Canadians will politely set aside everything but their belief we can do it again.

Quebec Values

The province of Quebec is unique in Canada; many non Canadians know that Canada has two official languages – French and English – how many people know Quebec has it’s own legal system based on French civil law? It’s complicated; for anyone wanting to learn more the link below gives a good overview,

Quebec values is a term given to a bill expected to be introduced in parliament this fall by the Parti Quebecois – aimed at regulating religious symbols. If you worked at a government office, police station, public school or daycare, university or hospital you would be forbidden to wear a burqa, turban, hijab, yarmulke, or cross. Some exceptions would be allowed under the amendment to the Quebec Charter of Rights; a crucifix in the National Assembly would be considered an “icon of cultural heritage”,  as it was a gift from the Catholic Church in 1936. The Marois government is also considering an exemption for staff at institutions such as hospitals, with a clause specifying the exemption be reviewed every 5 years.

Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s Minister of Democratic Values is the driving force behind the bill he originally called the Charter of Secular Values. The debate was sparked in 2007 when the Bouchard-Taylor Commission took a look at “religious accommodation” in Quebec. Last week Charles Taylor spoke in a televised interview saying the bill far exceeds  recommendations of the commission.An excerpt of Taylor’s comments from a CTV news story….

“They are proposing such strict restrictions that it will create problems… People will feel rejected by Quebec,” said Taylor.

He said that widespread bans against religious icons would end up creating ghettos in Quebec.

“It tells a category of citizens ‘you are excluded, we don’t want you here.’ It doesn’t make any sense.”

While conducting their commission, professor Taylor and historian Gerard Bouchard found, early on, that Quebecers were almost paranoid with fear that Muslims were taking over society. Taylor and Bouchard found those fears were not rooted in reality, and said that Quebec should work to integrate all citizens.

“The rules we proposed were very clear: institutions are neutral, individuals are free,” said Taylor.  ridiculous –

I’m still pondering “Quebec Values” –  I believe it’s a step in the right direction, perhaps being taken a little too far. Asking a woman to remove her hijab when entering a government building seems a bit much. Then I remember I live in a country whose federal employees are forbidden to say “bless you” after someone sneezes – I’ll take attempts to extract church from state, however feeble or silly over the Tea Party any day.

Idle No More – You Have Some Problems

Lets face it; it sucks to be an aboriginal person in any country. Civilization is shaped by conquest, genocide, and religious oppression. None of it right, appalling and tragic is the plight of those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of those with bigger muscles. Entire civilizations wiped out in the blink of an eye.

Canada‘s first nation’s people are no exception. Adding insult to injury, not only did they find themselves rounded up and placed in reservations; their children were taken away and subjected to the horror of the residential school system. A shameful attempt to eradicate any trace of traditional native culture and language. Treated as not much more than slave labour, they endured physical and sexual abuse, all in the name of a Christian God.

I don’t blame any of them for the chip they carry on their shoulder. That said; many, many people have had a rough time. No one said life would be fair. Thousands and thousands of immigrants arrived in North America with nothing more than the shirt on their back. They too lost their homes, fled persecution and war, yet made a choice for a better life. They never forgot the “old country” but embraced Canada as chance to make a fresh start.

I’m well aware of the difference between immigrant and indigenous populations. The point I’m making is that first nations people never acquired the mindset needed to succeed. History is rife with tragic stories of persecution and oppression. In ancient times they would have been killed or forced into slavery. Forget treaties or reservations; those are modern concepts shaped to alleviate moral dilemmas unheard of throughout thousands of years of history.

The “Idle No More” movement has a valid point and a terrible approach. Not only a lousy approach, but a major image problem to overcome.  It always has, and will always be about the money. The problem is far from simple, but assure you it will not be solved by banging a drum. Start by taking responsibility for your lives. Explain how you spend the 100’s of millions of government money, tell us why you don’t encourage your children to take advantage of the opportunities handed to them on a silver platter. My children would leap at free tuition.

Idle No More doesn’t have a leg to stand on until they stop being the victim. Your culture, just like religion can be kept alive at home. You are Canadians now and need to take responsibility for your future.