Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Fourth of July from Canada

I hope Americans have a wonderful holiday, celebrating their achievements, their families and their country. But I wish Canadians, in their quest to be friends or do business with Americans, would drop the neo-colonial mindset and stand up for themselves.

I wish Canadians would insist events, like the American Revolution, are portrayed in popular media and books accurately and, at least occasionally, from our perspective. I wish Americans would stop revelling in the fact that they don't know what a Governor General or a Member of Parliament does.

Most of all I wish Canadians would stop excusing this and allowing it to happen.

It's time Canadian actors and writers told publishers and producers that our words, our spelling, our accents, our places, and our perspective are too important to exchange for money. It's time Canadians backed them up and refused to watch, read or listen to media that does not portray Canadian perspectives accurately.

Let's be honest: The United States of America is not the only freedom loving country birthed in that bloody war between brothers now called the American Revolution. The Americans did not teach the United Empire Loyalists about freedom or hardwork or fighting for what they believed.

Those who opposed American rebels had to found another country to find freedom. There was little dissent allowed during the rebellion in the thirteen colonies.

Here's what loyalists -- mostly tradesmen and farmers with diverse ethnic backgrounds, not wealthy landowners, endured: jail, hanging, confiscation of property, forced renunciation of their beliefs, tar and feathering, and eventually exile to the wilderness.

That's our history. We have no reason to hide it, but we do for fear of offense and something we call a 'friendship.' But is, what Father of Confederation Sir Alexander Galt called 'a servile fear' of American anger really a friendship?

Friends treat each other with respect. Friends are equal. Friends aren't afraid of telling their own story, using their own accent, saying their own words. Friends don't hide who they are from each other. Friends want to learn about each other.

When Canadians can talk to the Americans honestly about our shared history, then we might be able to call each other friends.

When Canadian actors are no long asked to change their accent in order to get a job in their own country; when Canadian authors, screen-writers, and producers are no longer asked to use American spelling or turn Canadian stories into American ones (as Paul Gross was when he made Passchendaele and when Americans and Canadians can see movies and read books about the United Empire Loyalists, Canadian regiments in WW I, or the colonists battles in the War of 1812, made from a Canadian perspective, we'll be getting somewhere close to friendship.

Until then, we are merely polite acquaintances condemned to repeat our mistakes. Pity.

1 comment:

N. J. Lindquist said...

Hmm. Great minds... I just posted a column that was published in Christian Fiction Online Magazine back in May when I was the International guest. Nice of them to have one international author each month. I tried to convey what it feels like to be a Canadian Christian author in an industry that is dominated by US publishers and books.

Unfortunately I don't think many Canadian's are aware of the problems either. It's not just about getting published - it's also about leaving a legacy behind depicting our Canadian Christian culture.