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Pride in our nation's history: O Canada! Tour stops in Pembroke, Cobden 0

By Stephen Uhler, OBSERVER MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST

Justine Lewis portrays as General James Wolfe during a performance of the O Canada! Tour, during a stop at Highview Public School in Pembroke Wednesday morning. The bilingual performance is a youth led our promoting Canadian history and a sense of national pride in both official language.

Justine Lewis portrays as General James Wolfe during a performance of the O Canada! Tour, during a stop at Highview Public School in Pembroke Wednesday morning. The bilingual performance is a youth led our promoting Canadian history and a sense of national pride in both official language.

Canada is a bilingual nation, but it is too easy to sometimes take that for granted.

Helping to connect Canadian students to that heritage is the purpose of the O Canada! Tour, which seeks to both promote this fact and to stir up a little national pride in both English and French.

On Wednesday morning, Pembroke's Highview Public School played host to the show, which is supported by the Canadian Heritage Youth Take Charge program and the Canadian Parents for French.

A multimedia event, O Canada! told a brief history of Canada through images, original music, masks, songs and interaction with the students in attendance. The fast-paced show alternated smoothly between both languages, and was written and performed by young people.

O Canada! is in the midst of a 60-school tour across different regions of Ontario. After leaving Pembroke, the performers headed for Cobden District Public School Wednesday afternoon

In addition to promoting Canada's two official languages, the show aims to help young Canadians develop a deeper appreciation for the struggles, sacrifices and hopes of all those who came before them by focusing on key nation-building moments such as the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Woman's Suffrage and those who lost their lives in conflict.

Renee-Claude Theriault and Justine Lewis, the performers, said the show is not about politics or anything like that, but to be a celebration of how beneficial it is to be bilingual.

"We're two girls who grew up in a diverse culture," Theriault said.

Lewis, who comes from Montreal, said they also don't fit into the traditional idea of what it means to be bilingual. Her compatriot is from New Brunswick, while she is a Quebec anglophone.

The idea is to show being bilingual shouldn't be something about being French or English, but about being Canadian.

The O Canada! is a pan-Canadian project which will reach 46,000 students across four provinces and one territory.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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