As we work our way through what has been an unusually hot British September, the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom is getting ready for a busy fall and winter. I hope we will have many opportunities to get together with the Canadian diaspora in London and throughout the U.K.
That’s a big group. At any given moment, I’m told there may be as many as 250,000 Canadians – living, working, studying, vacationing or whatever – across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Given the long, deep, elaborate and extremely positive relationship between our two countries, Canadians fit in very smoothly over here, and it’s often hard to find them. Our team at Canada House would like to keep in touch. If you know of others who should be on our mailing lists for Canada Plus or other information about issues or special events, please invite them to subscribe.
If you have been back in Canada lately, you will know this has been an extremely dangerous summer for wildfires all across the country – most recently in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. At least four people have lost their lives, tens of thousands have been displaced, more than 15 million hectares have burned (the worst ever and it’s not over), livelihoods have been destroyed, smoke pollution and bad air quality have created health hazards far and wide. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, and our greatest thanks goes to all those amazing First Responders and Emergency Workers who are battling the blazes and tending to the victims.
The Royal Family has been deeply concerned about Canada’s fires. They have closely monitored the evolving situation and expressed solidarity with all those affected. That caring and outreach are so reminiscent of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. On September 8th, we marked the first anniversary of her death after a reign of more than 70 years. Her public life was the epitome of dignity, duty and service above self. She will long be remembered with deep respect and affection.
King Charles III acceded to the Throne immediately, so he has just completed his first year as Monarch. He is continuing his mother’s strong connections to Canada, but also instituting innovations that are standing him in good stead – for example, the unprecedented meeting which he convened (just 48 hours before his Coronation) with Indigenous leaders from Canada to open a personal conversation about reconciliation.
This September is turning into a month of reflection about reconciliation – and meaningful action. At the end of August, a special ceremony was held at the Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh where a delegation of Nisga’a leaders from the Nass Valley in B.C. prepared an historic Memorial Pole for its return journey to Nisga’a lands. Canada was represented on this solemn occasion by our Honourary Consul in Scotland, Mary Duncan.
The House of Ni’isjoohl Memorial Pole was stolen from the Nisga’a people way back in 1929, and later sold to the Museum where it has been on exhibit ever since. Through extensive discussion and close collaboration between the Nisga’a Nation and the National Museum of Scotland, it was agreed that this precious and massive artifact should be “rematriated” (a term that reflects the matrilineal culture of the Nisga’a). It is now on its way home to the Nass Valley, under the tender care of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
It is expected to arrive in its proper place in Nisga’a territory before the end of this month. A welcome ceremony will signal the end of its journey, and it will then be available for public viewing in October. At Canada House we want to congratulate the Nisga’a leadership for their accomplishment, and we thank the Museum and all those who helped to make this possible. Reconciliation at work!
About the time the pole arrives in British Columbia, Canadians will be marking both National Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day – on September 30th. I hope all Canadians here in the U.K. will do the same. Wear something bright orange that day, just as Canada House will be bathed in orange lights that evening, to recognize the impacts of residential schools felt across generations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
And please take some time to learn more about all of this. You can explore the rich and diverse culture, voices, experiences and histories of Indigenous peoples using online resources, or you might opt for first-hand accounts derived from First Nations, Inuit and Métis-led virtual activities.
By the way, facing three oceans and with the world’s longest coastline, Canada is also a maritime country and a proud member of the London-based International Maritime Organization. Keeping our waterways and shipping system safe, secure, prosperous and sustainable is a big priority. We will mark World Maritime Day on September 28th by illuminating Canada House in blue.
And finally, let me remind you of another great Canadian tradition – the annual Terry Fox Run. It happens in September all across Canada and around the world – including the U.K.
- On September 17th in Battersea Park in London and in Tollcross Park in Glasgow.
- And on September 24th at the Four Seasons Hampshire Hotel.
Over $850 million has been raised to date worldwide for cancer research in Terry’s name. But there is still much more work to do. Join the movement (quite literally) and participate in this run supporting cancer research. I hope to see you there.
All let me wish you a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving (October 9th)!
High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom