Thursday, July 18, 2013

Canadian Identity - Scottish – Anglo contribution diminished in national narrative & culture

Canadian identity is nebulous, with the Anglo-Franco-cultural patrician interspersed with hundreds of other nationalities and the First Nations, we truly are a mixed bag. Multiculturalism and the omnipresent “diversity” are words often lifting tenuously from the chatter of uncertain youths. It seems the most unifying element of our national narrative is hockey, a wonderful game where our excellence is unquestioned and rarely surpassed.

Something is missing for me though, the real meat I draw on for identity comes mostly from my Scottish heritage – it has a strong presence within me, so when asked what my nationality is, I normally say Scottish. My grandfather was Scottish and came via England at the turn of the Century, my mother’s family built one of the first twenty houses in Toronto. Short of being indigenous, it is hard to imagine anyone more Canadian. When someone asks where are your from, I respond “Canada of course.”

A lot of my sense of Canadianess stems from our association with the British Empire. The Scots and the Canadians both have an inextricable link to the British Empire; they say the Scots ran much of it! Canada was birthed and preserved by loyalists in many respects. As the British Empire played such a large part in our formation, it seems fitting to give it - its due in the mashup that is forming our narrative. Like all entities of expansion and greatness, the British Empire stepped on some toes, the British Empire’s net affect on Canada has been overwhelmingly positive. I am often disappointed in the contemporary media’s absence of deference and at times holding contempt for, a great contributor to Canada’s creation. As, at times, one begins to believe Anglo bashing is the new national blood sport.         

I think it is useful to point out to our youth, to look around the world and observe where the prosperity is and is not. Countries sporting the British Parliamentary system and common law have among them the most prosperous nations. The British System of government has spawned free and highly egalitarian states with unprecedented wealth; they are all there to look at, shinning examples. So while there may have been some missteps along the way, Canadians should pay homage to our association with the British Empire, and happily preserve its presence in the Canadian culture.

As a Scot / Anglo, I sense a disproportionate depletion of our presence in the counties narrative. When positive Anglo influence is presented, it tends to be submitted to revisionist history, unless its an example of a racially related event, then the press seems to pay attention to crossing every t and dotting every i. Any racially related piece of legislation is unacceptable in a contemporary setting, when Canada was being created the world was a racial  place – a most unfortunate part of human history – but history none the less.  

This is my attempt at pushing back against a trend toward the marginalisation of my socio-ethnic group, the often maligned White Anglo Saxon Protestant. Often viewed as the imperialistic majority by the other’s we’ve become the subject of much abuse, and while a long way from being a marginalised minority, there is a trend in Canadian Society to permit detracting discourse toward us. Most importantly, my children are of the same ilk and as such I want them to take pride in their heritage in unison with the other ethnic groups in Canadian society taking pride in their heritage. There is a tendency in contemporary Canadian society to take every opportunity to besmirch the Anglo aspects of our history. The very process of committing to paper comments recognising my heritage come’s with trepidation, as I feel when I talk about my heritage it may be construed as racist given the back drop of contemporary discourse. I am extremely proud of my heritage, as should be the first nations and other ethic groups in Canada.

There are several events that demonstrate the curtailment of Anglo ethnic expression in Canadian society. Two events in particular come to mind, firstly, there was the Canadian Heritage Society’s attempt to stage a re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and secondly, there was the CBC production about Rene Leveque. The Canadian Heritage Society attempt to stage a battle re-enactment was halted by the threat of violence from extreme factions in Quebec. The Battle of the Plans of Abraham is an important part of Canadian history and deserves to be recounted and viewed in its proper place as history. By contrast, a government agency financed the telling of a story of a man whose main aim was the fracturing of the Canadian federation. Both are valid parts of our history to be recounted for our people, yet one gains the sanction by government funding and the other is stifled. This is a glaring inequity that brings to light a trend in Canada. I am sure if polled, most people in Quebec would agree there is an inequity here. As a Canadian I embrace the colour the Franco component brings to our nations identity, it is fair I think, to pursue equity in the telling of our history. When a mother is blessed with her first child she loves that child completely and when the second comes, she loves that one completely. Her love for the second child in no way diminishes her love for the first – there is an expansion of spirit to accommodate the feeling for both. I am willing to take this step forward with my ethnicity intact.   
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