Friday, November 04, 2016

Between Friends/Entre Amis

That was the title of the coffee-table book created by the Canadian government, and editted by photographer Lorraine Monk, as a gift to the American people for the U.S.A.'s Bicentennial in 1976.  I have a copy...on a shelf under my coffee table.

Our countries have been neighbours, friends and allies for almost 150 years -- more, if you count the years before our Confederation.

Growing up in a small town in SW Quebec, just 16 miles north of the border with New York State, with a step-father who was a Canadian Immigration Officer on that border, and with friends whose parents owned cottages down the way from ours on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River/Seaway...

Now living in Western Canada, a good day's drive from the border with Montana, but with many friends, some family and many colleagues in the U.S....

Well, let's just say I've found the events and developments of the last year a cause for concern, some anxiety, and not a little grief.

Out of these emotions has come this poem, and this piece, just finished...

Canada Weeps

Helplessly we watch

Our friends,
slide into isolation
cynicism and
lying to themselves
about themselves
and the 'other' in their midst.

We're powerless
as always
their brash braggadocio.

we envy them:
(seeming) successful,

as next door we labour
drawing water
hewing wood
keeping peace,
too polite
for our own good
and theirs.

-- M. Blank, Oct. 2016

Canada Weeps (C) 2016
19" W x 15.5" deep
Materials: cotton, poly-cotton and recycled
upholstery fabric, fusible web, cotton and
mono-polyester thread, glass beads.
Techniques: fused applique, free-motion
quilting, beading.

Canada Weeps - Detail 1

Canada Weeps - Detail 2

It should come as no surprise that I have an urge to apologize for the work, lest it offend my American friends and family...

I am not alone up here in my concern, anxiety, fear and grief for the bumpy, pothole-filled road you've been travelling this election season, and for what might happen after November 8, regardless of who is elected your President.  Canada cares about you; the world cares about you -- and your impending decision.

Those of us who are praying people have been and will continue to hold you in our prayers.

Linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and leaving you these words from the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister in 1976 (and yes, father of our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau)...  written 40 years ago in the Forward to Between Friends/Entre Amis:

This book is about people -- about the Canadians and Americans who live in harmony close to that long thin line known as the International Boundary.  It is about the boundary itself, which both links these people and helps to define their separate national identities.
This book is also a celebration -- a joyful recognition of that striking triumph of the human spirit reflected in the atmosphere of peace and friendship which pervades the many relationships between two proud and free nations.  It is a celebration, as well, of the two hundredth anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, and of the innumerable accomplishments of a great country during two centuries of freedom.
No one should think it strange that Canadians should involve themselves in the observance of an American anniversary.  Over hundreds of years we have worked and played together, laughed and mourned together, fought side by side against common enemies.  Our two peoples have helped each other repair the havoc of natural disasters, inspired and applauded each other, opened our hearts and our homes to each other as to valued and welcome friends.
Let no one seek to devalue the achievements of our friendship by glossing over its occasional difficulties.  It is true that, as is not uncommon among lifelong friends, we have sometimes had serious differences of opinion, misunderstood each other, struggled against each other's competing ambitions.  Long ago we even fought each other, usually in relation to the very boundary which this book illuminates.  
The true nature of our international relationship, however, is revealed by the fact that it is defined not only by our differences, but by our capacity and eagerness to resolve them.
Our International Boundary, and the men and women who view it from opposite sides, have a vitally important lesson to teach other members of the community of nations.  It is well expressed on a plaque marking the border line between Alaska and the Yukon Territory -- a plaque which proclaims that the friendship between Canada and the United States is 'a lesson of peace to all nations.'

May his words remain as true November 9 as they did then.
God bless America. 



Christine Staver said...

Margaret, I am so stressed about this election I almost have myself sick. I have never seen anything like this. I fear this is only the beginning of something even worse. I have thought about making a quilt to express my emotions these days. I like your quilt.

Laura McGrath said...

I'm also very stressed about this election, and and so glad it will be over soon but also very afraid of what the outcome will be. Its been hard to concentrate on much else, but I no longer can watch the news as it makes me sick to hear about Trump over and over and over. I imagine that Canada will have a lot of Americans wanting to cross the border to live somewhere normal if he wins!

Anonymous said...

Your poem is well crafted and so is the piece. I love how you managed to reflect the tears.

Bethany Garner said...

So beautifully and well said, Marg. Your small artwork touches the heart of this American in Canada since 1985, loving the sanctity of the peace we honour with our trust and hoping beyond hope for my children and grandchildren in the US that all will be well after Tuesday night.
Thank you dear friend,