Canada’s First Cheerleader: Elizabeth II (1926-2022) – Patrice Dutil …

By Patrice Dutil, December 21, 2022

“It’s good to be home.”

Canada lost more than a Queen on September 8, 2022; he also lost his friend and lover. During her 70-year reign, Elizabeth II visited Canada 22 times, more than once every three years. She visited almost every region, from Nunavut to Victoria to Quebec to Halifax and hundreds of points in between.

She was a diplomat, interested in what she saw, and rarely missed an opportunity to encourage Canadians to do something special: look at themselves in the mirror and see the beauty of what they saw. She also wants to be a part of him. “I want the Crown in Canada to represent all that is best and most desirable in the Canadian cause,” she told the Alberta Conference in 1973.

Elizabeth II played the role of a good mother, and for more than 98 percent of us, she was our only monarch, one of the few things we’ve experienced together for generations. Most children are aware of current events between the ages of 6 and 7. In Canada, this means that the people who can sing “God Save the King” in school must have been born before 1945. Any young person more than this (that is, any) less than 77) and the only monarch you will ever know is Elizabeth II.

According to StatsCan’s estimate, this would represent approximately 1,484,847 people. Remove from this block the people who arrived in Canada after 1952 and who will only know Elizabeth II as Queen, and you easily get half the number. Therefore, in today’s population of 38,523,743, less than 2 percent of Canadians can remember when King George VI reigned.

Like the best of mothers, she was generous, and she rarely made mistakes. As the years progressed, and as she grew older, her words showed a deep appreciation for the traditions that motivated “the great daughter of the empire.”

She once told this story about her mother encountering some Boer War veterans at a veterans’ hospital in Quebec in 1939. Both were of Scottish descent, and they got into an argument about the authenticity of Queen Elizabeth. One argued that because the Queen Mother was born in Scotland, she was obviously Scottish. Then the other showed that she married a British man, so her background is English. The question arose, and they directly asked it when they were introduced. She paused with the unexpected question. She said: “Since I landed in Quebec, I guess we can say I’m Canadian.” Answer fully accepted.

Elizabeth II reflected on this event 60 years later. “You’re redefining your identity, what it means to be Canadian,” she told a crowd in Vancouver in 2002. She said it passionately, finding evidence that often eludes us. . She did not miss the opportunity to confirm the crown in this process: she wanted “to play a significant role in the Canadian identity, to preserve Canadian culture and traditions, to recognize the beauty of Canada and success, and to seek give a sense of continuity in these exciting, ever-changing times that we are fortunate to live in.”

Continuity – the essence of stability, culture and tradition – is what she was incarnated. On her first visit to Canada in 1951, she visited Regina and met Tommy Douglas, the Premier of Saskatchewan. She was surprised by the dream of the age she met. “These men and women are not just hoping for a better future; they sacrificed every day to achieve their goals, not for themselves, but for their children, their grandchildren – for everyone.”

Elizabeth II recognized that the settlers came from all over the world, not forgetting the First Nations who had called the Prairies home for a thousand years. She saw in the merger something special: “The spirit of land building here in Saskatchewan and Canada has fallen on a fertile ground. With this spirit, the promise of the future is limitless.” Moreover, she did not hesitate to inject herself: “I love this great country and the people who are proud to say ‘I am Canadian’.”

As she grew older, and often as the oldest woman in the room, Elizabeth allowed herself to share what she saw. “In my lifetime, Canada’s growth as a nation has been incredible,” she said in 2010. She pointed to the country’s wealth and diversity, but emphasized “the value … that in the hearts of ordinary Canadians” such. as “committed to freedom, justice and the rule of law … and to the service of peace.”

She also noted the positive trend. “With each visit,” she said, she noticed “a positive sense of pride,” “confidence and unity.”

“It means something to be Canadian,” she told an audience in Regina in 2005. In Winnipeg five years later, she said she has “watched and watched how Canada has grown and grown while staying true to its history, which is different. his character and values”.

Elizabeth II insisted on respecting the past, no matter how great its mistakes and injustices. In a speech she gave at Canada House in London on November 4, 2008, she encouraged her audience to “come together to look to the future by reminding ourselves how the past can inform the present. ” At one point in Edmonton, she commented on the “respect you feel for the generations of elders and forefathers whose hard work has built the Alberta of today.”

She spoke of history as something to be seen “as the foundation of the present and the future.” She dedicated her visit to Alberta that year to honor “the spirit of those who built this great nation,” and to remind her audience that the future must be remembered because “we can make a difference for those who will.” turn around and follow us. If we try, in our lives and in our ways, to leave the world around us better than we found it and maintain the highest standards in everything we do, we can be proud of our contribution . “

Elizabeth II reminds us that preserving the past is important, but resisting change is not. She told the Ottawa conference in 2002: “There is a difference between the Canada I see today and the one I saw for the first time in 1951. It has changed.” European Union. “Over the years, especially since your Centennial year,” she said, “I’ve watched Canada develop into an amazing country. She’s seen more women, more diversity, more love Sharing can make a difference. She saw more equality, more freedom and more inclusion.

She never said Canada was perfect, but more than any other Prime Minister or Governor General, she was loyal to the country’s progress, she believed in the strong hand of progress, and assured those who listened: “My family and I are with you. in spirit.” Elizabeth II, the beautiful and steadfast monarch who loved to call Canada “home,” was a gift to a broken country. Her message about Canada is worth remembering.

Patrice Dutil is a senior fellow at MLI and teaches political science at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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