By Hans Olson
During the seventeenth century, then-European superpowers Great Britain and France both established colonies in Canada. In 1763 France ceded control of its territories after losing the Seven Years’ War to Great Britain, making all of the Canadas—as they were called at the time—part of the British empire. In 1867 the British Parliament enacted the British North America Act, which created the Dominion of Canada. This officially started Canada’s road to independence, which ended with the Canada Act of 1982. Canada is now a fully independent country, although it still recognizes the British monarchy as its head of state, and continues to be a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
French, English, and aboriginal Inuit—known as “First Nation”—cultures have all heavily influenced Canadian culture. French colonists maintained their identity, and today their descendants make up most of Québec, an eastern province. Some 75 percent of Canadians live within 160 km (100 miles) of its southern border with the United States. The rest of Canada is sparsely populated. In fact, Canada has one of the lowest population-density ratios in the world.
Canada has two national languages, English and French; however, some of the northern territories have additional official First Nation languages. There has also been a move to make French the only language used in Québec’s government.
Adventists in Canada
The Adventist Church has two major initiatives to reach into Canada. Montreal, Québec is widely regarded as one of North America’s most secular cities. The city’s strong Catholic heritage has given way to postmodernism, as its burgeoning urban population of some 3.6 million people has become increasingly diverse. As part of the worldwide “Hope for Big Cities” initiative, “Project Hope for Montreal” intends to plant two new congregations in this challenging metropolitan area by 2010.
This Thirteenth Sabbath, part of the Sabbath school offering will help build low-power rebroadcast stations in rural communities across Canada. These stations will retransmit programming that originates at VOAR, an Adventist radio station based in Newfoundland. For years Canadian law has essentially prohibited licensing religious radio stations. When Newfoundland became a Canadian province in 1949, VOAR was allowed to keep its religious broadcasting status because it was already an established station. In Canada full-power radio stations are allowed to build low-power rebroadcast sites in smaller communities. In this way VOAR has created a national religious radio network, the only one in Canada. Today 18 of these stations broadcast the Adventist message on both coasts. The hope is to build more sites, including one in Whistler, British Columbia, a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
To learn more about this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering projects and how the VOAR rebroadcast stations came about, see the Mission quarterlies in your local church or visit www.AdventistMission.org.