Welcomed to the island with the words, L'aventure commence ici (your adventure has just begun), I welcomed the sight of sea and sand, and proceeded to find out a little about the first inhabitants of the island. The Mi'kmaq (also known as the People of the Dawn) were introduced to Christianity in the early 1600's and Chief Membertou was the first convert to Catholicism in 1610. Mi'kmaw men willingly volunteered for battle during the Koran conflict, and the tribe express their culture through arts and crafts, with their signature black ash baskets. First came the French and then came the English, and immigrants continue to settle.
"To neglect history is one of the shortcomings of civilization" Eric Harvie
"In September 1864, Canadian delegates, including George Brown, George-Etienne Cattier and John A. Macdonald, travelled to Charlottetown, PEI. They pitched the idea of Confederation to delegates from the Maritime colonies. Brown claims success, “Whether as a result of our eloquence or of the goodness of our champagne, the ice became completely broken… All delegates accepted the Confederation project in principle" (National History Museum, Ottawa).
Here I was standing at government house where they had met for an early morning assembly. Politically iconic! Amazing how a few unassuming meetings turned into the formation of a nation.
"Creative work on new frontiers is a constant element in the
strength of a nation and its people" Frank MacKinnon
"Arguably the most important photo ever taken on Prince Edward Island"
Under Confederation we must rise to the dignity of a nation.
God bless our noble Canada; God bless the new Dominion.
With God as our friend; our rights to defend; we have naught in the future to fear.
I love thee noble Canada; I pray that God may shelter thee.
Quotes from 1867
"Canadian Cooperation" defined as a mixture of charm and conviction!
Amazing to be in the place where it all started!
Canada’s official motto “A Mari usque ad Mare” meaning “From sea to sea” is based on Psalms 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” The first official use of this motto came in 1906 when it was engraved on the head of the mace of the Legislative Assembly of the new Province of Saskatchewan. The wording of the motto came to the attention of Sir Joseph Pope, then Under Secretary of State, who was impressed with its meaning. He later proposed it as motto for the new design of the coat of arms, which was approved by Order in Council on April 21, 1921 and by Royal Proclamation on November 21, 1921 (Canada's Christian Heritage). Since the statute of Westminster of 1931, Canada has been a fully sovereign country, which has chosen to remain a member of the Commonwealth, under the head of Her Majesty The Queen.
"As a home to many new Canadians, the responsibility to encourage an understanding of our history is an important one. The challenge before us all it to grow while protecting our past at the same time as we incorporate the stories and customs of our new citizens so they be
Ni'na L'nu, which meant in Mi'kmaq, "I am one of the people" (Heritage city sign).
Staying with a recent immigrant from India gave me a first hand experience of the life of a new Canadian on P.E.I. Her husband was working in Vancouver, but they had decided to have the family set up on the other side of the country, where it was more affordable. Their move made me think of a passage that had been significant on my own journey to the other side of the world. "If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me." Psalm 139:9-10
So what is God doing on P.E.I.? I got to spend an evening with a local prayer room, and gain some valuable insight into what God has done and is doing on the island.
Sitting in a small historic church that Sunday morning, I remembered the NIV version of God's promise to guide me to the far side of the sea. It had been quite a process, and as we sang, I joined in heartily to the lyrics of one of the theme songs on my personal journey home, "So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name but It was Well with my soul." Yes, It is Well, with my soul...
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."
Growing up in a locked country, the ocean had had less significance in my walk with the Lord, but here in Canada, I had come to see how integral the imagery was, from coast to coast. And when you're nation is surrounded by sea, you realize just how important it is to have a lighthouse around. At the time of confederation "Delegates came by ship to discuss the Maritime Union, which lead to the idea of Confederation."
When I was in New Brunswick, I asked Grandma Grace about the difference between my generation and hers. Her thoughts - "Our generation was like a ship without an anchor." In an age of global strife, where it is so easy to lose heart, how do we not shipwreck our faith?
The words of a spiritual father to a spiritual son, contain so much wisdom in this hour.
"So Timothy, my son, I am entrusting you with this responsibility, in keeping with the very first prophecies that were spoken over your life, and are now in the process of fulfillment in this great work of ministry, in keeping with the prophecies spoken over you. With this encouragement use your prophecies as weapons as you wage spiritual warfare by faith and with a clean conscience. For there are many who reject these virtues and are now destitute of the true faith" or as the NIV so boldy says, "have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith" (1 Timothy 1:18-19). How do we stand on guard for the faith of a generation? He is our anchor in the storm; our Lighthouse to lead us safe to shore.
Visiting the Greenwich Dunes was a special treat. Originally, the settlers needed clear land and not trees, which lead to intense deforestation. Wood was used for ships, homes, fishing boats, and most importantly firewood. The island is in the process of reclaiming the barren land and the dunes are constantly being reshaped by the wind and provide important and unique habitat for wildlife in their beautiful and ever-changing landscape.
I found this spot on my dune adventure. I try and get a quick sketch in here and there, when I have a moment. Originally, I had dreamed of capturing a series of sketches on my travels, but soon found that the combination of travel fatigue and having too many places to see in my whirlwind tour of Atlantic Canada, meant that a few hours sitting at the beach, was the only time available for me to bring out my pencil and paper. I'm so thankful to be part of a multi-media generation. What would we do without cameras and phones? They truly do provide a wonderful creative outlet to process our journeys.
So for this trip, a series of photographs and phone interviews would have to suffice. Creative reflection would just have to come later...
It has been such a blessing to have a car to drive through the Maritimes. Originally when I was processing this journey, I had thought to take the VIA rail throughout Canada, except that it only stops at certain places and you can't go off on spontaneous off-route adventures. Being from Africa is an extra advantage in my case, as the car I have been using is manual. Most North Americans drive automatic, but we learn to drive on manual in Zimbabwe.
Driving through all the beautiful farmlands that P.E.I has to offer, made me wonder: How much food does Canada export around the world? And is Canada exporting quality food? One thing about being on the receiving end of food aid, is you have to wonder if the food coming half way across the world is actually nutritional or not? Does Canada mainly grow GMO grain, and do the farmers use excessive chemicals? How easy is it to grow organic, or is there a huge monopoly on seed and soil? If there is going to be a "healing of the land" here in Canada, I believe this healing needs to affect the literal soil of the nation, and the produce from within.
Everywhere I went, there were fields ready for harvest. I thought of the command Jesus gave us to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into the harvest field (Matthew 9:38). Canada is ripe for harvest. Are we willing to be the answer to that prayer?
Thankful for the literal harvest of the physical land of Canada, I decided to taste some of the local produce. Having seen an add in a local newspaper, I had to stop and have a taste of a BOOMburger, boasting 100% Island beef and PEI fries!
If P.E.I is known for any crop, it sure is potatoes!
And, why not pick up some home grown potatoes at a local kiosk on the way out. It's not everywhere, farmers can sell their produce on the "honor" system, and who wants to stand out by a potato stand for hours on end right? It reminded me of the beauty of small-town communities. Trust. I remember growing up when we used to put glass bottles out for the morning milk run in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. How times have changed...
I loved my trip to P.E.I. If you haven't made it out east to this charming little island, you definitely need to add this stop to your Canadian bucket list. It' well worth the visit!