Old-Stock Canadians

An open letter to our nation’s prime minister.



Dear Mr Harper
My personal ancestry search uncovered the shocking truth that my daughters’ paternal great-great-grandfather fled to Canada to escape prosecution for theft and murder (the Australian arm of the family counts that as proud history, the Canadian arm hid it with such care that neither my children’s father nor their grandfather had a clue).  Nonetheless, this makes my husband and his family old-stock Canadians.
On the other hand, I have, until very recently, been proud to call myself a Canadian, even though I came to this country as a 2-year-old and became a citizen as a 10-year old. I have volunteered as a campaign pollster, volunteered at voting polls, contributed as a member of neighbourhood volunteer organizations of several kinds.
I have never once evaded or cheated on my taxes; I have been called to serve on juries and been tapped to run for two different political parties. When we opened our doors to the desperate immigrants of the 70s, I went to the local college to learn how to teach English language and culture – for FREE to these refugees and taught for two mornings a week for the next two years without receiving any compensation for helping these people become better citizens of their new country.
I wonder how many of the “old stock” can claim even a fraction of that.

Your own ancestral history, Mr Harper, is most interesting.
Your Canadian roots begin with Christopher Harper – born in a small village in Yorkshire in 1730 – emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1774, during a time of great rebellion in the Atlantic.
History goes on to record:

“Two of the most vindictive in their attitude toward the former rebels were Christopher Harper, a Yorkshireman, and parson John Eagleson,” writes Snowdon. “With the eruption of hostilities Harper had taken an active and determined stand against the invaders, and on November 7, 1776, had entered the fort with his family. The burning of his house and outbuildings forced him to remain in the fort for two years. While rebuilding, he and his associates had to remain in arms until the end of the war on account of ‘the rebels being so much incensed against him.’ Harper’s unpopularity had arisen from his claims for compensation of his losses.”

Christopher Harper, writes historian Clarke, “was accused of having abused his office of justice-of-the-peace. He was guilty, found the judges, of violent and oppressive measures and they recommended his removal.”

“In order to further the aims of the government in creating a spirit of reconciliation,” Snowdon wrote, “Harper was dismissed from ‘every judicial power that he [held in order to]quiet the minds of the inhabitants.'”

I concur with writer Roy MacGregor’ penultimate statement: “It is, of course, ridiculously unfair to presume that the small-minded Christopher Harper has returned to life in an ancestor who likely doesn’t even know the Original Harper exists – just as it is absurd to accuse Ignatieff of having royal airs before he even reaches the office to which he aspires.” (source:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/…/tracing-th…/article4274405/)

But, according to your term “old-order Canadian,” I am a second-class citizen. I feel personally deeply betrayed by this increasingly elitist increasingly xenophobic government.

I find myself asking one last question: My daughters are descendants of a 19th century criminal and a 21st century immigrant. Are they “old stock Canadians?” And should they be more proud of their “old stock” roots or their immigrant roots (over five hundred years of legitimate business men on my paternal side and academics on the maternal side)?

I realize, of course, Mr. Harper, that you are far too busy keeping more of my ilk out of the country.
So I can only offer the farewell of my forefathers: “Mr. Harper – Geh mitt Gott, aber geh!” Oh, right! Of course, Mr. Harper – I forgot that you would not deign to read anything except English – so allow me to translate that for you: “Go with God, but for God’s sake GO”

When we need a break (a prayer for pastors )

Martha Spong

Dear God,
We need a break.
We need a break from
Losses that shake us,
Committees that say no
To our vision
Or to our selves,
Struggles with no solutions
(Churches, bodies, church bodies),
Wedding couples seeing
Churches as Venues
And clergy as Vendors,
Sixty hour weeks,
Though we accept the blame for that last one –
Most of the time.

Even so,
We need a break.
How long, O Lord?
How long?

But you are faithful
In your love for us,
So we count on
Something, anything,
Good happening
Even as we count down
The hours until vacation,
Or a congregational vote,
Or the birth of that longed-for baby.

We look for the break you offer
In the kind words of an elder,
And the warm hug of the home-for-summer student,
And the not-quite-right joke a proud 5-year-old tells at coffee,
And the just right story from the just-returned…

View original post 119 more words

Push? or Pull?

There comes a point, the still point of the circle

Where one hears the answer in the silence

Who is in charge? Is it me? Or is it you?

Am I pushing, or are you pulling?

The wheels have fallen off

I’ve stopped pushing

And there you are NOW

The call to collar beckons

Across a stage once more 

Devoid of other actors

“Come hither and hear”



Some months ago, one of my former students in Damascus reminded me of a discussion we once had when I was teaching him English. He had tried to convince me that I was mispronouncing “chaos” because all the words he knew that started with “ch” had a “soft” start, like “church” and “chimney.”
In my letter back to him, I reminded him that English can be such a complicated language because it is the child of many many fathers, with all the problems of its mother’s complex relationships.
I probably called it a “bastard” language back then, with all the wryness of someone who had herself only recently learned of the depths such a status could indicate: a chasm between self and family, between self and community.
Chaos comes to English from Latin, but it is a bastard in itself, coming into Latin from Greek. It comes into English from the Vulgate where it was the word for the vast open unformed emptiness that preceded the seven days of creation.

Chaos stands against cosmos 
As bastard stands against family
As order stands against disorder
Ahh — but think!
Think of all the creative potential
Think of what happens outside the walls
There in the borderlands
Lies all the possibilities for change and growth
Let me, O Lord,
Be the bastard
Who finds how chaos
May yet change
Th’imperfect order
Of the church.
What a funny chaotic language English really is: not empty at all, but very disordered 🙂
Ahhhh – the possibilites




White Poppy
There is a level of unreality in the level of controversy this one flower engendered.
But I will not buy into jingoism
Peace is is not free – it comes at a cost
Sometimes the cost is the voluntary loss of ego

Egos are high
Peace is deep

No colour egos
to the all-colour light
of peace
And the poppies blow
in unbloodied fields

In the Midst of Tears, Smiles

Admittedly, now that my funds have well and truly run out, and my job applications bring no results, there are far too many tearful times

But I have a companion who provides me with good reasons to smile, and even laugh out loud.

A silly German meme posted by a distant friend gave me an idea for a poster of my own. 
Theodore is not to keen on flashes, so I had only one shot to get it right.

And here is the result


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