Canada is an interesting country. I visited it in the early 1990’s and found the mentality fairly European, and the landscape similar to what the nature looks like in central Sweden, even though the temperature fluctuates much more in Canada than where I live. In this text I will try to describe how that nation has developed over time to give you even more examples of humanity’s badness and goodness.
The Italian captain Giovanni Cabotto, (or as he is called in English – John Cabot) made a voyage in an attempt to reach China, and came almost to the same spot as the Norse men had done before him. This occured in 1497. When he came back, he told the English king of “seas alive with codfish”. English fishermen were appealed by this and went over there. After this Cabot made two more voyages. In 1524 another Italian named Verazzano explored Nova Scotia. Ten years after that the French explorer Jacques Cartier came to the S:t Lawrence River. He arrived at an Iroquois village, Hochelaga, where he traded with the Indians and got beaver furs, tools and weapons to bring with him back to Europe. Thus he laid the foundation for the French-speaking Canada. In 1576 the Englishman Frobish discovered the Hudson Strait, and nine years later Davis examined Baffin Island.
These journeys made the English and French really interested in this area, because of the good lands. In 1603 the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, explored the S:t Lawrence River and Nova Scotia. Five years later de Champlain founded Québec City, and in 1642 the city of Montréal. This was built on top of the old Indian village of Hochelaga, (mentioned above). Québec City was founded in an area the Indians called “Canada”, which meant “Settlement”. From there the French went exploring the vast area around the great lakes, and further down to the Mississippi Valley. The English explorations by Frobish and Davis led to further investigations of the country. Henry Hudson came in 1610 to an enormous bay, which now is named after him. This vast region is situated West by North West of Labrador, but it would take another 60 years before they started the real exploitation of the area. The reason for the English exploitation was the fur trade.
The French and the British fought about the dominance of the country. They also used the Indian tribes to help them in their fights. Bit by bit the French had to retreat and in 1713 they were forced to give Nova Scotia to the British, as well as accept the English rule over the Hudson Bay- and Newfoundland areas. The French were totally defeated in 1763, when they had to sign the Paris treaty, which said that they had to give up all their positions in North America. With this Canada became entirely British. The British control of the North American trade eventually made the European population in America irritated, and this led to the American revolution, and the foundation of the USA in 1783 – 89. However, there were still people in North America who were loyal to the British, and about 40,000 loyalists fled from the rebellious area and came to the still British ruled Canada. They settled in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. However, in 1812 USA tried to invade Canada but failed.
During the 19th century, there came a lot of new people to Canada to settle. This led to that the English-speaking population soon became a majority. It was during this period that the French-speaking state of Québec got a kind of autonomous rule. In the mid-1800’s, Great Britain was forced to give the Canadian provinces more political freedom, and in the 1840’s provincial governments and parliaments were founded. After the American Civil War (1861 – 1865), the Canadians decided to create “The Dominion of Canada”. In 1867 a federation was formed by Upper Canada and Lower Canada, (today’s Ontario and Québec), as well as by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Today the capital city of Canada is Ottawa in the province of Ontario.
New provinces were formed: Manitoba (1870), British Columbia (1871), Northwest Territories (1874), Saskatchewan and Alberta (1905). In 1949 Newfoundland became an ordinary province, after having been an autonomous region between 1864 and 1930, and then a colony directly ruled from London for another 19 years. In World War I (1914 – 18), and World War II (1939 – 45) the Canadians fought for the British side, and since then it has been a member of the Western Alliance of Defence.
Ever since the British got the control of Canada the French-speaking population has felt that they have been neglected and set apart. However, during the last decades the French –speaking Québecois have received better and better jobs and positions in the society. They have also always been very careful when it comes to keeping their culture and language. This phenomenon is called “La Survivance” = The Survival. The kind of French they speak in the province of Québec is an older form, with many traces from the 17th century. Nowadays they also have a language police who sees to the rule of Québec, that all companies, schools and so on, have information and signs in both English and French. Before this law was passed everything was only written in English. As a remembrance of the old struggle with the English, the Québecois use the phrase: “Je me souviens” = I’ll remember that. When I visited Montréal in 1992 I remember reading the phrase on the car number plates as a suppressed threat. I also remember the smart solution to the bilingual problem. Police cars with the text: “Police de Montréal Police”, or a building with “L’École de S:t Thomas School”. In 1995 they voted to see how many Québecois people wanted independence from the rest of Canada. 50,5 % voted against this separatism, and wanted to stay a part of the country.On September 4th 2012 the separatist Partie Quebecois led by Pauline Marois won the regional elections. She said: “Québec’s future is to become an independent nation”. A 50 year old man dressed in black cloak shot two people outside the election hall and shouted: “The English are awakening”.
But also the Inuits/Eskimos have struggled for some independence in later years. In 1999 the Native peoples got a large piece of land in the far north back, which measures one fifth of Canada’s area. One has to bear in mind that Canada is the second largest country in the world. This makes the Inuit people the largest private landowners here on earth. Their area/province is called “Nunavut”/Our Land. Their capital city is Iqaluit on Baffin Island and Nunavut also has the northernmost settlement in the world called Alert. To fight injustices and campaign for human rights, as well as land for the Native Americans, there is now an organisation called “The Assembly of First Nations”. Nunavut hasn’t given the Native peoples complete independence from Canada, but it’s a step on the way, even though they still are ruled by the federal Canadian government. The struggle goes on.
Canada is a vast country, (9, 215 400 km2), with 12 large provinces, (13 with Nunavut). It has a rich history, a modern, democratic society and beautiful landscapes with a wild life containing many enticing animals. The Indians and Inuits however are anything but happy. They see the descendants of their invaders who killed their ancestors and stole the land on which their own ancestors had lived for at least 6000 – 12 000 years. Now many tribes try to keep their old ways in protest. The multi- cultural world today is a fact and we have to adapt to the mix of people and learn how to treat each other with dignity and respect so that we might reach a common survival.
Anders Moberg, February the 20th 2013
Very cool narrative. I like it very much.