The True North Society of Canada

The True North Society of Canada

‘And this is the feeling we want more of in our Dominion – a feeling of Canadianism. Are we to be forever jabbering about our respective merits as Englishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, French and Germans; as Irish Catholic and Irish Orangemen? We have heard a great deal too much of this stuff talked. It is time that all classes of our population, whether born here or elsewhere, whatever their creed or country, should consider themselves, above all, Canadians.’- William Alexander Foster, Canada First, c. 1875

The Flag:

The flag of the TNS highlights the ways in which Canadians are a distinct nation. Geographically, the maple leaf is associated with south-eastern Canada, where the idea of a Canadian people first began. White stands for the cold winters which are a hallmark of our northern nation. Dark green signifies the boreal forest which is the principal vegetation of the Canadian landscape from East to West. Blue signifies a nation from sea to sea, linked by the rivers and lakes which dominate our northern geography. Historically, red stands for the British connection, blue for the French Bleus and white for the northern Native peoples. Together, the dialogue between these three cultures is what defines Canadian history. Moreover, these three strands have blended to form the core of the English-speaking Canadian nation which represents a majority of the people of the Canadian federal state and an important minority in the federal nations of Quebec and Nunavut.

The Métis, a blend of Cree, British and French settlers who formed into a distinct people at Red River between 1815 and 1870, were the first unhyphenated Canadians in the Canadian Confederation. We salute them and the tradition of metissage, or mixing, which their descendants carry on to this day. The many immigrants and their descendants who do not hail from the three founding groups are a growing component in Canada, but most accept the established cultures of Canada and carry on the Métis tradition of intermarrying with the local population. They increasingly see their destiny and identity as bound up with their new homeland rather than that of their ancestors.

Our Mission:

In a globalising world, there is a growing desire on the part of many English-speaking Canadians to better define their own identity. French Canadians, Native Canadians, as well as
various minority ethnic groups in Canada have been active in promoting their sense of separate identity, leaving English-speaking Canadians confused about their own identity. Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has said that Canada is a microcosm of the world. Sheila Copps once claimed that Canadian culture is Multiculturalism. This leaves most Canadians confused and dissatisfied. In reality, close to 50 percent of English-speaking Canadians are of mixed ethnic background, and this mixing of peoples is accelerating. More
than half of those who have been in this country for more than three generations tell census takers that their ethnic identity is simply ‘Canadian’.

It is time that the majority of Canadians recognized themselves and had an opportunity to feel proud of who they are. That is the reason for establishing the True North Society.

    Our Aims:

  • to promote a positive image for the large and growing number of Canadians whose unique or primary sense of ethnic identity is ‘Canadian’
  • to create a broader awareness of Canadianism: the identity of the English-speaking nation within the Canadian federal state
  • to spread understanding that the Canadian nation is inclusive and open to people of all ancestral origins who share in its broad cultural values and collective memory, regardless of race or religion.
  • to reaffirm that individuals of all origins are contributing to an evolving unified Canadian identity, in which no differences can be made based on family name or ancestry.
  • to promote more knowledge about the history and achievements of the Canadian people
  • to rediscover Canadian ethnic symbols, drawing on Canada’s nature, institutions and the historic interaction between British-American, French and Native Canadian elements, as well as individuals from the rest of the world
  • to work closely with French Canadians and Native Canadians to promote our common interests as Canadian ethnic groups sharing a common homeland.
  • to respect those Canadians who prefer to keep their ancestral homeland as their primary ethnic identity, while explaining the advantages of membership in the Canadian ethnic group

The History of Canadian National Societies

Some would have us believe that multiculturalism represents the only ‘third tradition’ between Quebec nationalism and British Loyalism. In fact, there is a long history of independent Canadianism among English-speaking thinkers in this country. The True North Society proudly carries on a heritage of Canadian nationalism that is neutral with regard to ideology. It originally found expression in the ‘Canadian Republic’ of William Lyon Mackenzie in 1837, later in Canada First (founded 1868) and the Native Sons of Canada (active between 1920 and 1970). This spirit has been associated with many of the most quintessential statements of Canadian identity such as our Maple Leaf flag and the art of the Group of Seven, both of which were influenced by the thinking of Canada First and the Native Sons. Then, as now, Canadian nationalism was a response to many elites who wished to distance themselves from the unwashed ‘provincial’ masses by identifying with a cosmopolitan global ideology (i.e. the British Empire, Multiculturalism).

One of the heroes of Canada

First was Thomas D’Arcy McGee, an Irish immigrant who drifted from his roots in Ireland to become a champion of Canadian national identity. He spoke in favour of Canadian independence as early as 1857 and denounced the Fenian (Irish nationalist) movement in 1866. This drift away from his ancestral roots angered some of his more extreme Montreal Irish constituents and one of them, Patrick Whelan, a Fenian, assassinated McGee on April 7, 1868. McGee will forever stand as a symbol of those who desire to be Canadian in the face of the ever-present forces seeking to suppress Canadianism in favour of Old Country multiculturalism or the ‘post-national’ elitism of empire and ideology.

Sir Thomas D’Arcy McGee, patron saint of the True North Society, photographed just prior to his death in 1868

‘When I can hear your young men say as proudly our federation, or our country or ourkingdom, as the young men of other countries do speaking of their own, I shall have less apprehension for the result of whatever trials the future may have in store for us.’ – Thomas D’Arcy McGee, c. 1868

Ethnic Group, Nation or State?

Canada is a state, with defined
borders and a government which has the monopoly on the use of force within the country. The Canadian state is a federation (or confederation) of provinces and territories and those who live in it are Canadian citizens. Within the Canadian federation, there are two recognised nations: Quebec and the First Nations (Nunavut and other constitutionally recognised aboriginal nations) and one unrecognised nation, the Canadian nation, whose everyday language is English. The latter are Canadian nationals. Within the Canadian nation, there are numerous ethnic groups, but the largest ethnic group – according to the most recent census – is (unhyphenated) Canadian. These are the Canadian ethnics. Ethnic groups are defined not

by their DNA (which, as with the Jews, is often mixed), but by their myths of ancestry and homeland, which trace the origins of the group to particular founding peoples and a particular place. The Canadian ethnic group traces its myth of ancestry back to the mingling of British-American and French settlers with the Native peoples of northern North America. The True North Society accepts the right of all Canadians to identify as they wish, but seeks to champion the recognition and cultural development of Canadian nationals and ethnics. This mission would hold even if Canada was taken over by another state, in which case Canadian nationals and ethnics will be the most important force seeking to restore an independent Canada.



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