- “My people were hard-working folk, greatly concerned with the problems of making a living, tired many a time with the day’s work and perplexed with life’s cares, but they were never too tired or busy to comfort a sad little heart, or do their best to direct a lost young pilgrim back to the highway of happiness” (39)
This quote caught my attention at first because it made me think of my own experiences growing up with my parents. Ever since I was little, my parents have worked hard every day to ensure the safety and happiness of our family. Everything they do is with their kids in mind, and they work tirelessly to give us all the opportunities we could ever want. Even so, we have an understanding that if I were to need support I know exactly where I can fall back on. They are always ready to listen or talk or give advice, and that is a quality in me that I hope is apparent in the way I present myself to others!
I think that in many ways this represents the relationships that many Canadians are drawn to, be them professional, romantic, familial, or friendships. We are partial to people who are able to give us support and love when we need it. There is an air of selflessness in Canadian identity, one that suggests our ability to prioritize the people we love in our lives.
- “The only thing we live for is our children… and if we fail them, we have failed altogether. Every child has a right to an education and if you do not get that for them, you have cheated them.” (67) -Nellie’s mother
These words represent the global push that is still happening today in regards to a woman’s right to an education. In particular, it makes me think of Malala Yousafzai’s activism for female education and the sacrifices she has made for the cause. In talking about the resistance against equality in education, Malala believes that “The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. they are afraid of women.” Through my readings of Nellie McClung’s biography, much of this fear is found in men at the time of the women’s suffrage movement.
Canada, for the most part, is made up of the people who came here from somewhere else. The majority of immigrants to Canada were and are people searching for better opportunities in life, and one of the major opportunities in Canada that we have to share is an education. Our public schools are not limited by gender, race, orientation or any piece of identity. In Canada we are proud to have access to education and it is one of the things that we have to remember is a privilege, not a given.
- “Many of the men I knew had the lust for more and more land and got their thrills out of mere possession” (191)
I sometimes think about humanity’s idea of ownership and how abstract it is. How is it possible that by simply signing a piece of paper, actual land and earth can be ‘claimed’? Materialism and a drive for possession is something that I find very human, and not a part of any other species’ lifestyle to the same extent. It’s not a strictly negative thing either, there is pride when you work hard and are able to obtain something that you want physically. It’s just a strange concept when you really think about it!
This country was built off of a race for claiming the land in what we now call Canada. When we grow up in school, we are generally aware of this reality, and for many it becomes a part of what we associate with Canadian Identity. Yes, in many ways we are a progressive and positive addition to the world’s social climate, but we can’t forget where we came from and what was sacrificed to get us here. There is pride in being a Canadian, but also an awareness that there is more to Canada than what is on the surface.
- “It was then that heard the bad news that women could not vote at all. No woman anywhere; and I knew there was something wrong about that, and said so until I was compelled to hush my talk” (205)
In my reading and research about Nellie McClung, I discovered that there is more to the women’s suffrage movement than women simply not being deemed competent. Women in Canada were not considered to be ‘persons’ until 1929. That is 89 years ago. There are still Canadian women who were alive when they were not considered people by the government. In the same way that McClung describes in the quote, I had no reason to even consider that women were ever not considered people, so when I found out, there was an immediate feeling of confusion and deeply set discomfort. For me, there is something so instinctively wrong about gender based inequality that it is hard to describe, and much, much harder to accept.
In Canada, we enjoy rights of freedom of expression and speech. While many have more difficulty utilizing these freedoms than others, there is an understanding in much of Canada that should there be a discrepancy in the way our country is run, we want to hear about it and are ready to join the fight to make a difference. Canadians are ready to band together and support each other for the things we are passionate about and believe in, and we have power in our unity!
- “Have something to say which you think should be said never mind how you say it, or what sort of a figure you are making- say it! Get it over to your audience as clearly as you can. If you can use beautiful words, crisp, singing words, words that are sweet in your mouth because of their association, so much the better, but words are only the paper and string in which the thought is wrapped.” (279)
As a person who can come off as outspoken or aggressive when talking about the issues that make me passionate, the nature of this quote speaks to my drive for empowerment. In future, I think that these words will help me to convey my thoughts and feelings to a broader audience by rooting my position back to the basics. First I have to think about what exactly it is that I’m trying to say, and get hyped up about that one concept. I have to narrow my goal to getting my point across before I add the fancy words (which is one of the best parts for me).
When Canadians look up to others to be role models or have influence on our lives, we look to people who share similar values and who can tailor words to speak to us. When Barack Obama told Canadians that “the world needs more Canada” in 2016, Canadians listened. Those simple, understandable words sent a message reflecting on Canada’s love and acceptance, and calling for a global shift in how we treat each other. Understandable, meaningful words have great power when it comes to unifying Canada and reminding us of what our communal identity truly consists of.
Theme: It is critical to identify what specifically one is willing to work for in life, and then do everything it takes to accomplish that goal.
This theme emerges from Nellie McClung’s words on compassion, family, possession, equality, and social change. The common thread between these things is that in order to be successful, you have to be passionate. One could be passionate about any of those listed topics, and if enough drive and effort is put into it, success will be the outcome in some form.