UBC instructor toured country asking Canadians why they love their country
She spent months on a steel-wheels tour, criss-crossing the country as Artist in Motion for CBC, ViaRail and Community Foundations of Canada, taking the pulse of Canadians at countless whistlestops.
Acclaimed poet Sonnet L’Abbé, who teaches creative writing at UBC’s Okanagan campus, journeyed from coast to coast and to Canada’s North, attending regional conferences, asking Canadians about their love for Canada and how we can show it in local and nation-wide events for celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
Thursday morning at the wrap-up conference in Ottawa, L’Abbé joined visionaries and leaders such as Governor General David Johnston, Paralympian gold medalist Chantal Petticlerc, and a showcase of performers, all sharing their ideas.
In a rendition both passionate and provocative, L’Abbé recited her original poem, its title translated from Inuktitut as What is Your Birthday? to a national audience.
Here, in time for Canada Day, is an excerpt from L’Abbé’s poem:
What is Your Birthday?
In four years, we will celebrate
the 150th birthday of our nation.
150 years of Canada,
or — should I say —
Quel moment de potentiel
de faire jaillir d’une occasion de puissantes étincelles
de la réflexion
sur la Constitution
de notre Canada conceptuel.
J’ai voyagé à travers ce beau pays
pendant huit semaines
talking to people about what Canada’s big birthday
could possibly mean for them.
And asking, can 2017
be more than the usual Canada Day scene?
Sure, they said. Let’s supersize a music fest
so that kids can rock the day.
Faut que quelqu’un écrive une chanson
qu’on peut tous apprendre et chanter.
Let’s finish building the TransCanada trail;
Let’s bling up an anniversary train;
Réduisons le prix des voyages
pour qu’on puisse découvrir notre pays,
Produisons davantage de minutes de patrimoine
So that we can know our own history.