The Song of
Remarks by Dr.
Annual Canadian National
Room 200 West
Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa
March 25, 2004
brothers and sisters, fellow Africans, fellow Canadians: I look around me and I
am indeed honored and greatly humbled to be here. I salute you women and men of
every tribe nation and language gathered together today in unity and in honor of
this sacred week of National Prayer.
thank God for this privilege to be able to freely gather without fear of
expression of who we are: our freedom, our dignity, our basic human right to
exist in this capacity, our embracing of the essence of others could cost us
greatly if we lived in some other country.
we live in Canada and it is my belief that we have been placed here for a
and Canadians have earned the reputation of those who facilitate the gathering
of the nations, the sheltering of
the persecuted, the celebration and honoring
of uniqueness, diversity of culture
has earned the ability to legitimately boast of possessing the reality of the
existence of a vast diversity of cultures and religious leanings that meet on
the common ground belief that our diversity is our strength and our potential to
learn from one another; that each one of us has something of value to share, to
give, to contribute; that every man, woman and child has the right to live, and
prosper in dignity and peace within the essence of who they are.
have been given a strong voice so that we may be the voice for all the
politically spiritually and emotionally silent prisoners in our world; we have
been given the charge to bear a sacred light that we may shine into the darkness of our
neighbour’s sickness, poverty, hopelessness, desperation.
are not a nation of stunted-minded people. Neither are we afraid to
express and live to honour our beliefs whilst still respecting and
guarding others who live in our midst that they too may have the same
this my friends is the one achievement that nations whose soils are drenched
with innocent and guilty blood and whose landscapes are littered with dead,
decayed and rotting bodies have never truly believed to be possible and hence
have never learned to do.
am a personal, privileged, intimate friend and uncompromising follower of the
teachings of Jesus Christ, my personal savior and Lord who changed my life and
placed His own spirit within me so that with His strength and for His glory I
could and will accomplish what the world defines as the impossible.
am a personal friend and follower of Jesus, the man who looked into the soul of
a woman who was brought before Him to be stoned and who drew a line in the sand
and forbade anyone who was truly better than her to cast the first stone.
am a follower of the man who broke a strict taboo that forbade him share a
simple drink of water at the well with a woman from Samaria, a nation strictly
forbidden to interact with the people of Jesus
teaches us His followers a love that crosses all racial barriers, all ethnic
boundaries all spiritual strongholds and commands us to raise our voice against
injustice and to shine our light in places of abysmal darkness--to take the hand
of the brother who hates us and to bless Him with a sincerity and truth that
comes only from the Living God.
path of the follower of Jesus is the path of the sacred warrior. Each day we
wage a war on armies that cannot be seen with human eyes whose manifestation in
the physical world heralds the genesis of division, destruction and human
dark forces that operate in this world operate for one purpose alone-- to build
walls between us and to destroy us. To build fear and apathy amongst us.
To convince us that what is black and what is white is really gray.
talk about unity a lot because it is safe and politically correct, yet without
action the word is powerless.
talk about pulling down walls of division and the word tolerance surfaces. The
word tolerance is alien to my Christian vocabulary. The word
tolerance has no place linked with human relation-building because it
implies instantly the "putting
up with," a reluctant acceptance of, a silent passive suspicious attempt to
remove barriers of fear, suspicion, division--the roots of which are always
deeper than suspected.
did not teach tolerance. He does
not inspire it now. Jesus never practiced tolerance. He practiced a sacred love of whose capacity we have no
comprehension. How can a man tolerate what he loves so dearly what he would put
his life in danger for? In the same
manner, we his followers are commanded to do the same with the power of His
spirit that lives within us.
make no mistake, Jesus hated every seed of darkness that takes root in a man's
heart and makes his actions evil. He hated every chain of captivity that binds
and makes men born for freedom shackled as slaves Jesus hated every poison dart
of shame and guilt that made women born for honour afraid and ashamed
to raise their heads. And he hated the walls of deception that divide us
from our brothers.
expressed his truth to those who hungered for life. He threw the moneylenders
(his own people) out of the temple because of the seeds of corruption they
sewed. Yet he embraced the strangers who were defiled in terrible sickness and
in compassion he healed them--even on the Sabbath.
is a counterfeit love that the world offers as a whitewash that leaves fear and
suspicion close behind. Tolerance ensures the erection of walls between us.
did not substitute tolerance for Love. We his followers do not substitute
tolerance for love. This is NOT what we are commanded to do.
I was in university I had two best friends. Our alliance baffled friends and
staff. I was well known as the straight-laced Christian girl and was often asked
why my two best friends were a Muslim girl from Mashad in Iran and an atheist
were right--our beliefs, our ways of life and our cultures were very different
but schedules forced us into fellowship. The more we learnt about each other the
more the walls between us broke down. People were right when they said we were
so different but there were three things we had in common and built our
friendship on-- respect, trust and a genuine love for one another. That was the
common ground on which we formed one of the deepest and most long-lasting
kind of friendship does not come from an agreement to tolerate a stranger. It
comes from sitting down with a stranger and sharing bread and life experiences.
And discovering a friend. That is what Jesus did. That is what He teaches
us to do.
charge to us that carry His name is this:
a man says he loves God and does not love his brother he is a liar. For if he
does not love his brother whom he has seen how will he love God whom he has not
seen?" Jesus also said, "Love your brother as your self. Entertain
strangers in your homes, if your brother asks you to go one mile with him, go
two. Bless those who persecute you."
want to talk about a nation that practiced "tolerance”... and a soldier
who practiced unbeknownst to himself the love of which Jesus spoke. And a
journey that took him face to face with darkness personified.
April 1994 a terrible crime was committed amongst a people who lived behind
walls of ethnic, political and spiritual strongholds.
was a highly organized, premeditated, systematic series of killings that shocked
the world. So whilst the world was sleeping and the watchmen were bound and
gagged one million men women and children were murdered in 99 days. Eighty per
cent of an ethnic tribe was wiped off the face of the earth. What caused this
rapid breakdown of tolerance?
was a deep-seated and malignant fear of one another disguised skillfully as a
fierce hatred. This hatred began as a seed. Like all seeds it was planted
amongst men to divide men and to destroy them.
It was placed and took root in the soil of ignorance and uncertainty and
it was watered and nourished by venomous and potent drops of fear, suspicion and fabrication. It blossomed into walls of
resentment and tangled thorns of festering hatred. Finally it erupted into the
unthinkable. It could only have occurred in the absence of a sacred love.
all over the country side of Rwanda are memorials-- solemn reminders of the day
that plunged lives into desperation-- that made orphans, widows, widowers,
victims, and murderers of a nation.
spoke to a woman from Rwanda a few weeks ago. For ten years she had silently
carried the scars of the genocide inside her, never speaking of it and avoiding
people of her nation to avoid the memory. She was very interested in the HIV
educational project I told her we would be setting up in November, so she asked
about the location of the project and became very uneasy when I wrote down the
name of the village. She informed me I must be mistaken because she was from
that village and that everyone there had been killed. I advised her it was true
that most people had been killed, but not all. A small group of women who had
survived alone had come together and setting aside their terrible loss had began
to rebuild their lives. For every child murdered they went and picked a street
child to raise as their own. They tore down walls of sorrow and grief.
moment I walked into my house I received a phone call. I spoke with the same
lady for over two hours and I have not heard such desperation for a long time.
This woman carried such deep emotional wounds. It was painful to hear how she
hid under dead bodies and smeared herself with blood to survive. She went for
days without water and food. At the end of the ordeal she told me she weighed 45
pounds. She had not talked about this for 10 years. The genocide was not over
was a solemn reminder of what happens when men violate the command to love one
another and substitute tolerance for sacred love. Tolerance can come to an end
abruptly...the sacred love of Jesus lasts forever.
did not love people from afar. He got to know who they were...not superficially,
but intimately. Because he had the advantage of seeing their souls and their
spirits, there was no fear or suspicion. Jesus
knew his followers and their most secret weakness and yet
He still He loved them. He expressed His love by revealing who He was and
accepting them as who they were and challenging them to grow... and to reach the
potential he saw in each of them. In the same manner does he instruct all men.
knew that Peter would deny him and that Judas would betray Him and yet He
embraced them with a love that is beyond our comprehension. It is that same love
that He commands us to spread and to share with one another. By sharing who we
are, the love we have received, and by honoring those who might not always share
our views but certainly share our humanity we are living the love of Jesus.
the midst of the genocide that ravaged Rwanda was a Canadian light bearer-- a
warrior who found himself almost destroyed by the terrors he witnessed and the
darkness he negotiated in those demonic days of the massacre. Again it is my
belief he was not placed in Rwanda in his position of command by coincidence but
by design, to bear and shine the light that even he doubted he possessed into
the abysmal darkness.
Romeo Dallaire exemplified the teaching of Jesus and I am uncertain if he was at
all aware of the spiritual significance of his actions.
think I would be safe in saying that Gen. Dallaire was not thinking of Jesus
when he recognized what was about to happen in Rwanda. He was surrounded by a
people who were different, perhaps even hostile and untrusting of his presence
in their country. He was immersed in a culture that was alien to him. And he was
about to discover a political culture that defied the voice in his heart that
defined the anatomy of his soul and exemplified the compassion and genuine love
that Jesus teaches us to have for one another.
voice cried out for those who were silently paralysed by years of fear and
resignation to silent hopelessness. He bore witness not only to a tribalistic
massacre but a shameful apathy from the powers that be that possessed the
resources and the manpower and the forewarning to have prevented the genocide
from ever occurring. They turned their backs on a nation in serious and deadly
crisis, not deeming the lives of 800,000 Rwandans valuable enough to merit the
presence of an army to save the day.
Romeo Dallaire has become a very respected and honoured symbol of the light
bearers of this nation. Gen. Dallaire embarked upon a journey in the physical
that every follower of Christ negotiates in the spiritual.
Like every follower of Jesus he was given a wall on which to keep watch
and a people within that wall to love. He may not have changed them...he may not
have saved them...but he succeeded in executing and exemplifying the sacred love
of God. He loved them with a genuine love. And his love was turned into an
action that has changed his life.
said when a man gives away his life for His sake he will find it again.
people were of a different race, culture and creed, as are the people Jesus
calls us his followers to love. Like every follower of Jesus on those dark and
dismal days, Dallaire would have battled against forces of evil that bucked his
efforts from every angle. Like every follower of Jesus his love for his fellow
men would be tried, tested and challenged and like every follower of Jesus, his
love for his fellow man deepened and intensified to an extent where he was moved
and completely convicted to make a difference...to go the extra mile to put his
own honour on the line for an amazing love and compassion unconvincingly
disguised as duty.
and sisters...if we are the light bearers of the earth and connected in this
rich Canadian family then we ought not to allow another act of genocide, another
crime against humanity to ever occur. The terrors of Rwanda indeed sobered us
into alertness and inspired us to join hands with one another. Now I have shared
with you the essence of who I am and all that I believe, the wall that stood
between you and I when I first stood on this platform to deliver this speech is
a little lower. When you walk a mile with me and you share laughter and tears,
achievements, failures, sunsets, births, dawn-breaks with me, you will find the
wall lower still until it is no longer there. This is the command that Jesus
gave me...to have fellowship with others. This the essence of who I am in Him.
urge you today, fellow Canadians, to stand with me and raise your voices with me
against another genocide that rages through the plains of sub-Saharan Africa.
That of HIV and AIDS. According to
the World Health Organization, 42 million people have the AIDS virus today. Most
of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of them live in poverty and some live
is not a topic we like to speak of. The face of HIV and AIDS is not one we like
to stare into. But it is real and we have the power to make a difference.
1999 13.2 million children were orphaned by AIDS. Twelve point one million of
them lived in sub-Saharan Africa.
lack of education and hopelessness have accelerated the disease to an
unbelievable level. Lack of nutrition, lack of drugs, lack of hope create a dark
place for these people struggling to survive with no hope in sight.
and rejection causes people to hide their status. Denial and ignorance cause
them to spread it. They die alone, rejected, isolated and afraid. As a believer
of Jesus I cannot stand by and say nothing and do nothing and go about my normal
daily tasks in apathetic silence. This is NOT loving my brother as myself. This
is NOT what Jesus has commands me to do.
the light bearers of this blessed nation I implore you to accept that we cannot,
we must not turn away from this terrible disease that like a genocide of massive
proportions is ravaging beautiful Africa.
November this year I travel to Rwanda to help set up an HIV educational program
in a small village where an almost entirely female population of genocide
survivors live. It is an overwhelming task but not an impossible one. It is the
little we can do to make a difference-- be a voice in the silence-- to bear
light in the darkness.
I cannot do it alone. So I beg you
to join me-- lift your voices with me so that it will be a mighty roar. Shine
your light with mine so that it will be a blinding light in the darkness of
hopelessness. Sit at my table of fellowship so that you will be with me and not
against me-- so that you will be my brother, my sister, my friend.
Take the blessing of the power that has been placed in your hands and extend it where it is needed desperately. If I am wise now your words can make me wiser. If I am strong now your support will make me stronger. If my prayers alone rise up in the name of Jesus against HIV and AIDS in Africa I will be a lone warrior and He will hear me still, but if you lift your voices with me we will be an army crying out to Him for the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Sing with me the song of my heart that was born and nurtured long ago on the rugged plains of Africa-- the song of Hope-- the song of Canada.
The Song of Canada
Words and music by Christine Botchway, copyright 2003
Can you hear the sound of voices
Rising with the dawn?
From every tongue and tribe and nation
Sacred Harmony is born
Rising up from hopes and dreams
Of nations Near and far
Echoing the voice of peace
The song of Canada
Like a beacon shining bright
For all the world to see
Walls are breaking wounds are healing
Captives are set free
Warriors are rising up
From broken shackles broken chains
Raising voices, joining hands
To declare that freedom reigns
Lift your voice with me don't be afraid to be the
light that you were meant to be
In every heart there is a song of hope dying to be sung
with all the colours of creation come lift your voice as one with me
We'll take your light both near and far and we salute your song of peace
The reflection of her rivers are the colours of creation
And the music of her mountains is her truth.
CD recordings of "The Song of Canada" can be purchased from Christine Botchway (Contact David Kilgour's office at 780-495-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to order). All proceeds to benefit HIV educational project in Rurenge, Rwanda.