At last a clarification of why Canadians add ‘eh’

Spirit of Canada

True North Perspective contributing editor Rosaleen Leslie Dickson presents the following, inspired by the National Press Club Spirit of Canada Gala taking place on Wednesday evening, April 30, at the Sheraton Hotel, Ottawa.

"You'd have to be there."

By Rosaleen Leslie Dickson
True North Perspective
Contributing Editor

Early in 2007, a new sub-ministerial cabinet portfolio was established by the Government of Canada, entitled Canadian Identity. All born in Canada, or granted Canadian citizenship, claim Canadian identity and, presumably, would understand and espouse the Spirit of Canada. But who can even define the term?

Primary influences on the Canadian Identity, werethe existence of First Nations and the arrival, beginning in the 15th century, of European settlers. Relations between French and English-speaking Canadians, and First Nations have played a major role in building Canadian identity. Other European and Asian immigrants have helped shape the Canadian identity since Confederation and today Canada has a diverse mosaic of nationalities and cultures. The Spirit of Canada could be defined in as many ways as there are Canadians, and if someone living abroad were to ask, our answer would be, "You'd have to be there."

Canadians have a habit of putting a one-word question at the end of every sentence. We say "Eh?" after statements as well as questions, even on such banal remarks as "Nice weather; eh?"  The supposition is that Canadians generally have an open mind on all subjects, defining to a degree, the Spirit of Canada. 

Our citizens and their elected governments extend a warm welcome to everyone, their customs and cultures, including those of Canada's original inhabitants, resulting in the mosaic, which makes Canada unique among nations.

Because of the diversity of our population and governing bodies, maintaining the Spirit of Canada becomes the responsibility of each of us, whether we hail from generations of "true north strong and free" Canadians or arrived by plane from Zimbabwe this morning.

If God indeed created Canada, as in the urban myth, to be "a land of outstanding natural beauty, with tall majestic mountains full of mountain goats and eagles, beautiful sparkling lakes bountiful with bass and trout, forests full of elk and moose, high cliffs overlooking sandy beaches, with an abundance of sea life, and rivers stocked with salmon, inhabited by the most friendly people on the earth" — then it is up to each of us to fulfill His plan. Letting alone the goats and eagles, our people can achieve friendliness, and it is best expressed by the journalists of the day.

True friendliness requires dependability, responsibility and honesty in the body of people we call "The Press."  Promoting these essential traits, by the use of all media, the National Press Club's mission is to help future journalists acquire the necessary education to excel in this profession, and to recognize and award those who do. Our fund-raising events are for this purpose, and to make us all aware that the Spirit of Canada is alive and well. Eh?   

© Rosaleen Leslie Dickson