This past week I received my new Canadian passport. And it is a whole new design, with illustrations from Canadian history on each page. However, it is a very specific history that the passport portrays, one which misses a few things. There is one page of symbols of aboriginal peoples, but there are no aboriginal people. There are no non-white people. Though there are several illustrations of memorials, no page celebrates artists and authors, and there are no depictions of religion other than the Vimy Memorial, unless you want to count the Stanley Cup and the Grey Cup.
So, to celebrate Canada Day, I say let us remember that Canadian history is more than the official version. At intervals I am going to put up quotes from Canadian poets and authors and others, from whatever books I can find in what is, right now, a rather jumbled collection. Please feel free to join me in this: let’s bring out as many of those George Elliott Clarkes and Thomas Kings and Margaret Atwoods and Mordecai Richlers that we can. And also music and visual art, and anything else you want.
To begin, an excerpt from Anne Michaels:
There is earth
that never leaves your hands,
rain that never leaves
your bones. Words so old they are broken
from us, because they can only be
broken. They will not
let go, because some love
is broken from love,
rain from rain,
like the sea
from the sea.
(From ‘Into Arrival’ in Skin Divers)
Happy Canada Day, people.