Canada 150 & Me – Days Past

Eternal God, whose reign extends from sea to sea and whose care endures throughout the ages, hear our prayers for our country: grant wisdom to those who govern it and respect for human life and dignity to every citizen, so that justice may flourish and all peoples live in unity and in peace.

(Collect for Canada Day)

July 1 was Canada’s 150th, and my 75 ½ birthday.  It was a relaxed day and one for remembering past in the present, and thanking God for many blessings.  This is a bit of a stream of consciousness. 

Source: bbc.co.ukOn a November day in 1947 I remember sitting in front of our large radio cabinet and hearing a description of the wedding procession of Princess Elizabeth.  The commentator puzzled me by saying that it was sad that many of the monuments along the route still had their World War II hoardings in place.  Only much later did I realize that this was one small remnant of wartime London – a remnant of destruction that Canada has never had to face in its gravity and extent.

  Six years later in 1953 my grade six class and I had front row seats in Winnipeg’s Odeon theatre for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, the woman who has been a symbol of stability and good will for the past 64 years.  I contrast this with the shock and dismay that our first year Juniorate class ten years later experienced when John Wickham announced the assassination of President John Kennedy, an event in retrospect that was prophetic of the decades to come.Source: pinterest.com

On Canada’s 100th birthday my visit to Expo 67 was again a time to marvel and be hopeful for the future.  Visiting the pavilions of country after country there was the impression of the world visiting Montreal displaying the riches of many cultures. 

Again there was a sharp contrast as my Grade 12 regency class at St. Paul’s High School signed a letter of support to Prime Minister Trudeau as he struggled with the Quebec Crisis of 1970.

 Source: pinterest.comOnce more the world was present, however, as we cheered on the victors of the 1976 Montreal Olympics and demonstrated unity in diversity.   That same world came crashing down in 2001 on the day of 9/11 when the world changed irreparably with resulting wars and unimaginable displacement of peoples.

 But today hope returns once again as some of these refugees celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday as new fellow citizens.

God’s reign truly does extend from sea to sea, from age to age!

Joseph Schner, SJ, is a professor of Psychology and Religion at the Toronto School of Theology.

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