An Article For North Shore News ĎSpiritually Speakingí Column
Canada and Reconciliation:
Hope or Fantasy??
ĎQuebec Sovereignty within 1,000 Days!í, promises Premier Bernard Landry. As someone who lived in Montreal during the time of Expo 67, I love the people and province of Quebec. I love their flair and passion for life, their joie de vivre. Canada would be a much weaker country without our francophone neighbours.
One day before the infamous 1995 Quebec referendum, David Richardson of African Enterprise spoke in North Vancouver on the topic of Canada and Reconciliation. David was born in Geraldton, Ontario, and, at age 10, went to spend over 40 years of his life in South Africa. David mentioned: "I have lived as a Canadian in a foreign land, and yet in many ways have returned to Canada as a foreigner...a strange paradox that I should feel like that. But I do." When David came back to Canada, he felt a very clear calling to come back: "I didnít come back because of Canada or because of South Africa. I came very clearly because the Lord called me to go home...because of lostness. I felt God say ĎI want you to be part of my Church in Canada to deal with the lostness of Canadaí.
David sensed that in returning to Canada, he has been given two basic messages to share: 1) The message of reconciliation & 2) The message of accountability. David intuitively feels that Canadian reconciliation can be best lived out by following the pattern of 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land." He emphasized that it is not finally in the hands of the Quebec government or the federal government or the provincial government to bring about the healing of this land. It is in the hands of Godís people. "I donít think that any of us have any doubt that our land needs healing. We could take a referendum on it if you like, but I donít think itís necessary..."
I donít believe that there will ever be healing between francophones and anglophones in Canada, until we face our lostness as a nation. We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten where we came from. We have forgotten how to love and forgive our neighbours as ourselves. Reconciliation with Quebec is not a matter of tolerating each other and using each other economically. Reconciliation is about repenting over how we have so often crushed each otherís culture and treated each other like dirt. Reconciliation is about turning from our endless regional grumbling and learning to fall in love with the amazing gift that God has given us in Canada. Quebec is not a problem to be solved. Quebec is a sibling to be embraced and treasured. Reconciliation is not about mere tolerance; it is about learning to love and embrace one another.
One of the ways that anglophone and francophone Canadians are beginning to embrace each other is through the remarkable gift of the Alpha Course. Ironically the person in charge of encouraging francophone Alpha courses across lives right on the North Shore. God has an amazing sense of humour sometimes. To show Godís love to Quebec, he decides to use an American United Methodist attending an Anglican Church who has university degrees in French and Business Administration.
As the new National Chair for Alpha Canada, I am thrilled by the growth of Alpha Courses among francophone Canadians. If a person wants to grow spiritually, one of the best ways to do this in oneís heart language. When a francophone learns how to be spiritually intimate en francaise, doors open, life bursts forth, chains come off. I believe that the recovery of francophone culture is a gift from God to reach the heart. And at the end of the day, if you havenít touched a personís heart, you havenít touched them at all.
Francophones are a very spiritual people but many of their hearts have been covered spiritually over by pain and rejection. I believe that as francophone Canada rediscovers its heart, then the rest of Canada will rediscover who we really are as well. All of us in Canada, not just Quebec, need to admit our lostness and our need for genuine reconciliation. The heart of Alpha is reconciliation, reconciliation with our neighbours and most importantly with our Maker. With dozens of Alpha Courses being offered on the North Shore this fall , you too can choose to be part of the miracle of reconciliation.
The Rev. Ed Hird+,
St. Simonís Anglican Church, North Vancouver
The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simonís Anglican Church
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St. Simon's Anglican Church
North Vancouver, B.C.