Opinion Column

From sea to sea: Canada was founded on faith

By Rus Jeffrey

The Fathers of Confederation meet at the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864.

The Fathers of Confederation meet at the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864.

All year we've been celebrating Canada 150. In comparison to other countries, the nation of Canada is quite young. However, just because we're a young nation, does not mean we don't have our fair share of traditions and other identifying factors making us Proud to be a Canadian! For example, you might be Canadian if"¦

You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars. You drink pop, not soda. You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers. You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group. You know what a toque is. Your local newspaper covers the national news on two pages, but requires six pages for hockey. You know how to pronounce and spell "Saskatchewan" - and last but not least - you perk up when you hear the theme song from Hockey Night in Canada!

A couple months ago while ministering in Erie, Penn., our host was thrilled to take us to a Tim Hortons. The funny thing is, they were taking us there because they've recently discovered Tim Hortons and thought they would treat us to something different! I chuckled and said, "You do realize Tim Hortons came from where we live, right?"

Our host did not know, and I also had to point out that Tim Horton was a hockey player before he became a coffee chain.

Aside from Tim Hortons, hockey, the prairies and the Calgary Stampede, Canada is also famous for something else.

While many do not realize it, Canada was at one time known as a nation with a God given purpose as proclaimed by those involved in naming Canada, the Dominion of Canada. One hundred and fifty years ago, Sir Samuel Tilley, Premier of New Brunswick and one of the Fathers of Confederation, rose each morning to start his day with prayer and Scripture reading. As the 33 fathers gathered in Charlottetown, P.E.I. to discuss and draft the terms of the British North American Act, there were many suggestions on what to call this new "United Canada." That morning, as Tilley read from Psalm 72:8 - " May He rule from sea to sea..." - Tilley became so convinced Canada should be a nation under God, he later entered the Conference session and presented the name "Dominion of Canada." The other Fathers readily agreed and accepted. Today, the following words hang in the corridor near the confederation Chamber in Prince Edward Island Province House: "In the hearts of the delegates who assembled in this room on September 1, 1864, was born the Dominion of Canada. Providence being their guide they built better then they knew." Three years later the British Parliament passed the British North America Act and on July 1, 1867, the Dominion of Canada was officially born. 

In the late 1990s I remember a newspaper headline declaring, Canada Is No Longer A Christian Nation. How did they arrive at such a declaration? According to the census of that time the majority of people said they had no church or faith connection when asked about their faith. As a result, the writer of the article concluded since most people did not declare if they were connected with a church, or faith, therefore the nation of Canada must no longer be a Christian nation.

Of course, if you're just looking at the pure data, such a conclusion might be accurate. However, just because people say they are not connected to a church, does not mean they don't have faith. But, that's a topic for another day. For now, as we celebrate the 150th birthday of Canada, I believe we will do well to remember the Scripture Canada was founded on"¦

"May He rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Psalm 72:8). Canada has a definite purpose, and that's to be an example for the rest of the world.

Dr. Rus D. Jeffrey, Fresh-Wind Ministries, www.DrRus.com