Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
It’s a true, but a challenging statement. Its true, because while we may not put our money where our mouth is, we do put our money where our hearts are. Its challenging because we need only look to where we put our treasure to find where we’ve placed our values. Indeed, as a country, as a church, and in our families, we need only look at our budgets to discover what we actually believe. Continue reading →
“According to a study of textbooks published by the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism in 1970, we learned a version of Canadian history which presented English-speaking Canadians as superior in almost every way to the French. […] More recent studies have concluded that things haven’t changed much in the twenty five years since the Royal Commission.”
As Daniel Francis argues in his book National Dreams: Myth, Memory, And Canadian History, the historical narrative that governs the social imagination of Canada is sharply divided between the cultural linguistic groups of the French and the English. This divide, Francis points out, is well illustrated in the English Canadian history curriculum, which too often depicts French Canadian society as traditionally Catholic, “feudal, authoritarian, and priest ridden;” contrasting to the English who were protestant “rational, progressive, and freedom loving.” Continue reading →
The Nature of Citizenship and Democracy in Joy Kogawa’s Obasan
As a seminal Canadian text that has been used as a pedagogical-political tool to instruct Canadians about the Japanese internment since its publication in 1981, Joy Kogawa’s Obasan contains some rather troubling elements for the contemporary critic. The healing moment that comes for Naomi, the novel’s narrator (who was interned as a child and who has tried as an adult to forget the experience) is an internal one dealing largely with the personal overcoming of silence by herself and her family unit after her uncle’s death. I will not get into the theme of silence which runs through the novel except to say that if this novel is, as Erika Gottlieb suggests, about turning “silence into sound” (52), then the sound is a quiet and private one. Even as Naomi struggles to fully face what happened to her, her family, and her people after 1942, she is never tempted to join her activist aunt, Emily Kato, in her battle for justice. She says shortly after introducing Aunt Emily that “people who insist on bringing up their own victimization make me uncomfortable” (Kogawa 36), and while she learns from Emily the importance of facing the pain of her memories, she still affirms at the end of the novel that “this body of grief is not fit for human habitation. Let there be flesh. The song of mourning is not a lifelong song” (270). What is troubling to the critical reader about Naomi’s progression is that, unlike her Aunt’s, it seems centripetal; Naomi does not view herself as an agent for greater change the way Emily does, indeed at one point she silently queries that “[g]reed, selfishness, and hatred remain as constant as the human condition, do they not? Or are you thinking that through lobbying and legislation, speech-making and story-telling, we can extricate ourselves from our foolish ways? Is there evidence for optimism?” (219). I want to argue that this is not constitutive of an abdication from politics, but is in fact the result of a specific politics born out of different assumptions regarding citizenship and the nature of the state. Continue reading →
Last year, while working alongside refugee claimants, I held a small child in my arms and looked on as her parents stared at me in disbelief. In their country people don’t hold their children, they run over them with their cars or throw Molotov cocktails through their windows. So when they saw me showing attention and love to their child they were speechless, and I have to admit, so was I. I had never encountered others who had been so palpably scared by deep-seeded racism that it forced them to flee their homes and come to Canada, and this has been just one of my experiences with the Roma. Continue reading →
If you happen to be looking for B.C. Premier Christy Clark at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning, you might find her at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver. A former religious studies scholar at the University of Edinburgh, Clark worships now and then at the century-old Anglican church on Burrard. She even popped up as a reader at one recent service, filling the beautifully restored Gothic interior with her smooth radio voice. Continue reading →
“The most serious deficit Canada faces as a nation is its leadership deficit. This national challenge goes far beyond the political parties and includes the major institutions that operate within Canadian society. The heart of the problem is found in our complete rejection of making public decisions based on the concept of the ‘Common Good’.”
So says Canadian Anglican bishop and former member of the Ontario Legislature, The Rt. Rev. Dennis Drainville, who will be presenting a lecture on February 29th, at 7:00pm, entitled “Where Have all the (Good) Leaders Gone?” It will be held at Seeley Hall, Trinity College, in Toronto, Ontario. All are welcome.
Canada, and possibly the world in general, is going downhill if you listen to Bishop Dennis Drainville. We lack good leaders, people feel demoralized and the the institution of the church is crumbling, to name a few of the ills Drainville hopes to combat with his self-published book Renewing Hope.
Written in the weeks following Jack Layton’s death, Renewing Hope is “a critique of Canadian and Western society, economies and political situations,” Drainville said. By focusing on lack of leadership, the concept of the common good, corporate concentration in media, and competency-based education he hopes to engage people as citizens and help build a better, and more just Canada. Continue reading →
“The most important battles of my career were, unfortunately, the ones which were lost. We tend to think of important battles as victories….most of my victories were in the early part of my career.”
This was not quite how I had expected my interview with Bill Blaikie, one of the foremost parliamentarians of his generation, to start. Yes, many of the causes Blaikie championed – nuclear disarmament, anti-globalization, justice issues for aboriginals – have been marginalized or ignored by mainstream politics, but in the wake of the massive growth of the NDP both nationally and in Manitoba (where he served as an MLA from 2009-2011, after leaving federal politics) over the last ten years, it seems as though Blaikie’s withdrawal from active politics comes at a time when his party is stronger than it has been in years. Continue reading →