One of my readers mentioned, a propos the post on multiculturalism, whether or not we here in Canada even have a culture worth annihiliating. A pertinent question, and one that I have pondered. What, in fact, is Canadian culture?
Such a question may bring to mind a number of associations: Maple trees and syrup, backyard hockey-rinks made by your Dad with the garden hose, flannel shirts, fireplaces, polar bears, skidoos and igloos, cottages, the Rocky Mountains, David Suzuki and David Sutherland. Perhaps, if one is more historically minded, as one ought to be, one may ponder the early settlers of an untamed Canada, the interpid and stoic habitants and missionaries who heroically brought Christian and European culture to Canada, with mixed success. I say ‘mixed’, since not all of their descendants were, and are, shall we say, appreciative of their efforts.
What is left of all this to bind us together? A country must be more than a geographical expression and a proximate grouping of individuals in urban or rural communities. At least the early Quebecois and the missionaries had their shared religion and, as I said in my previous post, underlying every culture is a religion of some sort, those principles that guide our actions and conduct, the one or more things that are the ‘master(s) of our affections’.
Can Tim Horton’s and the Ottawa Senators serve such a function? Are we bound together by frozen and reheated doughnuts (yes, the Canadian spelling, culture at work), and coffee that requires ‘two creams and two sugars’ just to be drinkable? Can the National Hockey League, comprised of millionaire players and billionaire owners, many of whom are not even Canadian?
To ask the question is to answer it: We are a people without much of a culture, and ‘multiculturalism’ is a patchword to describe our own emptiness.
We are left with what we might call cultural artefacts, the relics of a past culture fading away: Our laws, customs, manners, views have been, more or less, shaped by Christianity, and we have lived off this patrimony.
Ask yourself, how many people on your street, or in your town or city do you know? If you know them, would you consider them friends? Would you have them over for a barbeque, or a games night? Would they come to your help in time of difficulty? Could you ask them to help you move, or babysit the children? Do you know any Canadian folk songs, the music of the ancestors who built this land?
Other cultures, who do have shared ‘values’, especially a shared religion, can answer these questions in the affirmative. One need only look at the Amish, Mennonites, Muslims, Sikhs and, yes, even some Christian communities that remain tight-knit. Notice they all take their religion seriously.
But, alas, across most of this land, the remnants of our own once-Christian culture have left a vacuum, and, as we all know, that is something nature abhors. Other cultures will move in simply to fill the void; unlike Caesar, they will scarcely have to conquer.