Monday, March 03, 2014
new "welcome" statues to reflect canada's history
Canada opens its arms wide
Gov't Sees New Role for Our Country as Asylum for the Oppressed
The Canadian government announced today that it will be actively opening its doors to those in other countries who are experiencing discrimination, and expediting their entry into Canada. Officials at Immigration Canada say that the plans had been discussed for some time, and were finalized earlier this week.
"It's time that Canada, a pioneer in human rights, sets an example for the world by embracing those who are unwelcome in their countries of origin, and who are in many cases oppressed. We are not just talking about those seeking political asylum, but also and specifically about men and women from sexual minorities whose lives are in danger," said Prime Minister Harper. He emphasized that rather than just talk, this initiative provides real support and help to individuals and families.
Along with getting the word out worldwide about our welcome and the new immigration procedures, the government plans to erect large statues at key points along each of our borders. The statues will face towards the border, with their arms open to the world, and will feature key Canadians.
As Canada is already a diverse country, the proposed welcome statues will be the most visible part of this new initiative for most Canadians.
According to sources, the concept is to show the diversity of Canada while also connecting to real Canadians and to key points in our history. Final decisions have not been made, but some of the people said to be on the shortlist include Viola Desmond, Lily Shinde, Louis Riel and k.d. lang.
Viola Desmond, a black Canadian living in Halifax, was arrested in November of 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a theatre. She was subsequently charged and convicted of tax evasion (as the whites-only section cost more, she had not paid the additional sales tax!) This took place nine years before the more well-known bus incident with Rosa Parks in the U.S.. Ms. Desmond was posthumously pardoned in 2010.
Lily Shinde, along with her family and 1,000 other Japanese Canadians, was interned in a camp in 1942. As an adult, she seeks justice for all who are marginalized and disenfranchised, with a particular focus on aboriginal issues, Japanese Canadian issues, and women’s rights.
Louis Riel was a leader of the Métis of Red River. He fought for French language rights and also helped the Métis bring their grievances to the Canadian government. He was involved in the rebellion of 1885 which was largely related to the government not keeping its side of treaties, and was eventually hanged for treason.
Each statue will have a modern-day, statue-related version of the saying that some will recognize from the Statue of Liberty. The saying for the proposed k.d. lang welcome statue, shown here, is as follows:
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!`cries she
With silent lips. `Give me your gay, your lesbian,
Your transgender masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your moral shore.
Send these, the beaten, the bullied to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The government will be seeking public input on the final selection, as well as a competition for the inscription on each statue.