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”