I AM CANADA © David Watts, 1999

Canadian Specific ®

I am Canada

I am one and I am many

To know my oneness is to understand my diversity

To know my diversity is to appreciate my oneness

I am a mirror, a microcosm of Earth: one centre, many faces

Look at me—and see yourself.

I am Canada the Land—an immense and open land:

Bounded by three oceans, the northern half of the northern continent of the New World

I am new and I am old:

the Selkirks are my backbonei, Rockies and Appalachians my limbs, the Laurentian Shield my midsection

the Fraser, Mackenzie, Churchill and St. Lawrence—arteries with myriad capillaries serving my heartland

And interconnecting huge inland lakes, fresh and pure

I am covered by grasses, by forest, by muskeg and by ice

My crown is the high arctic, where the people remember: as they call their home “the land,” Nunavut—so

I am Canada the Land.

I am Canada the People: people who were born in me

People who come to me to live

All people who choose me, to live in relationship with me

First Peoples who crossed the land bridge before history

Who named me “Nootka” and Schushwap,” Québec and “Mirimachi,” “Kanata” itself

people who called me New France, Montréal, and Grande Prairie

crisscrossing my waterways, trading with the First Peoples

I am people who called me British North America, Nova Scotia and New Westminister

I am people who are still coming: from India, from Africa, from Europe and Asia, from all over the earth

To these, and to those who live away but hold me in their hearts, I am Canada the people!

I am Canada the Spirit

The spirit of search and adventureii, of yearning for a better wayiii

The spirit of patient and orderly growthiv

of not uprooting something because it is oldv

or rejecting something because it’s new and differentvi

Of not allowing any idea, individual or institution to dominatevii

The spirit of tolerance and understanding, of caring for my own, of living with others

I am Canada the Spirit

Hey, how about democracy and free enterprise—isn’t that part of it? And the social safety net

How about federalism? bilingualism? the monarchy? multiculturalism?

These are manifestations. They express the Canadian Spirit but they are not my spirit by themselves.

Expressions change:

Canada has been a “Company of Adventures”

A Crown colony

A standoff, and later a partnership between peoples

An overseas province

An autonomous Dominion

And a decentralized federation

Our economy has been

Imperial protectionist,

continental free trade,

capitalist and social democratic.

These are forms—clothes we put on for different seasons—

Not to be confused with the spirit that underlies them.

As people grow and earth evolves, forms will go on changing—the Canadian spirit will find new ways of expression

Retaining what’s good adapting where it is needed

Canada has an unparalleled record of orderly change

500 years since the first European and Asiatic peoples met

at least ten flags and eight constitutions

the only modern state born without revolution or civil war

This is the Canadian Spirit—a heritage of which we can be proud.

I am Canada

Canada the Land

Canada the People

Canada the Spirit

I am many and I am one

But I do not exist for myself

I am a part, a face of Planet Earth

A sign of hope to other nations

That they may be one, as I am one

My land is a trust, to be an example of living in harmony with Earth

My people are a foster family, an opportunity to model community in the global village

My spirit is a sign of the connectedness of humankind

I am Canada, an awakening face of Planet Earth

I am Earth’s land

I am Earth’s people

I am Earth’s spirit—a gift of God, a warming wind,

A gentle breath circling the globe, till the word awakens to its oneness.

That is “dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

i Geologically the Selkirk mountains are the backbone of the continent, much order and harder than the later Rockies. It was the bridging of these mountains by Major A. B. Rogers between the Beaver and Illecillewaet Rivers that brought Canada together from sea to sea. Without Rogers Pass Canada would have remained a patchwork of British protectorates on the east coast and the St. Lawrence River system.

ii The explorers, traders and voyageurs

iii “They desire a better country…” (Hebrews 11: 16) is the motto inscribed on Order of Canada medals. It was the spirit that motivated Jeanne Mance and others of “Canada’s Pilgrim Mothers” to leave the opulence of France and establish a new kind of settlement in Ville Marie (Montréal): neither a military post nor trading one or even a mission “to convert the heathen” but a hospital for any in need. That is a model of the Canadian spirit at its best in the world.

iv An evolutionary state, not a revolutionary one

v Canada retained the institution of monarchy and transformed it from a symbol of imperialism (Empire) to one of community (Commonwealth). The Commonwealth of Nations took its present form as a result of Canada’s evolution to full autonomy within the British framework. The multicultural character of the Commonwealth has been upheld by Canada’s stand with the Third World nations, beginning with PR John Diefenbaker’s condemnation of South Africa over apartheid in 1961.

vi Responsible Government (accountability of cabinet to the lower house of the legislature) began in Canada in the 1840’s fifty years before it developed in Britain. The first democratic socialist government in the New World was the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) elected in Saskatchewan in 1944. Canada has borrowed from other countries including the concept behind our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and innovations such as provincial ombudsmen (co-opted from Scandinavian tradition), and Access to Information and Privacy Protection.

vii Pluralism is a keystone of Canadian life. Federalism, bilingualism, multiculturalism and the mixture of private and state enterprise in our economy are all examples of our unwillingness to identify any one single approach as The Canadian Way. Even our use of the monarchy serves this end. If Canada ever changed its connection with the British Crown, it’s highly unlikely we would go for an elected politician as head of state. A Prime Minister may wield power within the government, but public reveling in power is definitely not in keeping with the Canadian Spirit.