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观点:“我们改公民宣誓词吧”(“Let’s Change the Oath of Allegiance”)

来源:贴心姐妹网   更新:2013-07-28 06:55:51   作者:Ratna Omidvar
观点:“我们改公民宣誓词吧”(“Let’s Change the Oath of Allegiance”)

图/Maytree基金会    多伦多Maytree基金会会长Ratna Omidvar (更新:自2018年3月起,Ratna Omidvar担任参议员

致力于推广公平和多元化的多伦多Maytree基金会(Maytree Foundation)的会长Ratna Omidvar是加拿大勋章和安省勋章的获得者。最近,她撰写评论文章表示,鉴于加拿大人口的多元化,加拿大新移民宣誓成为新公民时,宣誓词应从目前的向英女王效忠改为向加拿大效忠。

Ratna Omidvar在文中说,她在印度独立不到两年时在印度出生。尽管英国人已离开,但对印度文化和社会的影响还在。她在英国文化的熏陶中成长,但逐渐对英国殖民印度的血腥历史有了了解。因而,她对英女王既敬慕,又感到恐惧。

她在文中接着说,移民加拿大后,她发现,加拿大和英女王也有历史性的关系。女王在加拿大的代表是总督,加拿大在收回立宪和修宪权前,每次修宪都需要英国议会的批准。她也了解到,一些加拿大人热爱英女王和王室,但法裔和很多原住民并不一定有这种热爱。

她在文中说:“历史有其地位。我们应该了解和懂得历史,赞赏和珍惜正面的历史,从中吸取教训,接受并尽可能纠正错误。但是,我们不应该被历史挟持。自信地跨步走向未来,我们应该知道我们从哪里来,但我们没有必要被局限于过去之中。”

她还在文中说:“因为我们的国家由这么多不同的人组成——法裔、原住民、英裔、阿卡迪亚人、来自全球各地的新老移民——加拿大找到了一种融合不同的成功故事。正如Pico Iyer说的,我们具有“全球性的灵魂”。我们学会了如何打破僵化,逐渐包容。如果向加拿大及其法律和机构宣誓,公民宣誓可以成为将大家团结在一起的宝贵机会。 ”

她在文中表示:“反对者会说:如果你们不喜欢这里,你们应该离开。这样的言论只会将我们进一步分割。我喜欢这样想象:新移民将加拿大作为新家园,他们就获得了权利,不,应该是义务——作为一个积极参与国家事务的公民,重新安置新家中家具的摆设。”

注:Ratna Omidvar原文标题为"The Queen and I",“Let’s Change the Oath of Allegiance”为《贴心姐妹网》编辑所加。《贴心姐妹网》感谢Ratna Omidvar和Maytree基金会给予转载英文原文和翻译其中段落的许可。

“Let’s change the oath of allegiance”


By Ratna Omidvar, OC, OOnt

HM Queen Elizabeth and I have a complicated relationship.

I was born in India, barely two years after independence. The British may have left, but their influence on Indian culture and society had not. I grew up devouring books by Hardy and Dickens, wrestled with Milton and Donne and chuckled with P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde. I knew about the War of the Roses, read about the Charge of the Light Brigade and Britain’s courageous roles in the First World War and the Second (in which Indian regiments fought and perished alongside their British comrades).

When I finally visited the United Kingdom in my early 20s, I felt, in an odd sense, that I was coming home: I knew the landscapes, the narrow streets, the rain-drenched gardens, the history, the people.

But just as India was slowly awakening to its new-found freedom, so was my awareness of its years of colonization under the British. In Amritsar, where I grew up, I was taken to visit Jallianwala Bagh, not far from the Golden Temple, where Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer and his soldiers drew fire on 15,000 men, women and children in 1919, killing at least 379 and wounding 1,100 (these are British numbers, Indian estimates were much higher).

For this, he was celebrated in Great Britain as a hero of British Raj. I learned that my grandfather was imprisoned, along with thousands of others, for the simple act of burning Western clothes and donning Indian homespun. I learned that Winston Churchill, whose speeches I so admire, dismissed Mahatma Gandhi as a “half-naked fakir.”

And most horrifically, I learned that in Louis Mountbatten’s rush to meet his Aug. 15, 1947, deadline for the declaration of independence, whole communities, families and villages were separated by seemingly arbitrary lines to partition India and Pakistan. More than a million people perished brutally as a result. I remember devouring books such as Freedom at Midnight and Train to Pakistan. And so grew my complicated relationship with the Queen. Admiring on the one hand, horrified on the other.

Many years later, I found myself as a new (and very grateful) resident of Canada. I knew that Canada, too, had a historical relationship with the Queen. I knew that her representative in Canada was the Governor-General. I learned that before the patriation of the Constitution, every amendment to the supreme law (the British North America Act) wanted by our Parliament in Ottawa had to be ratified by parliamentarians in London.

I learned that Canadians were wildly enthusiastic about the Queen and her Royal Family, but that this enthusiasm was not necessarily shared by francophones and many in the aboriginal and native communities. Still later, I learned that Rideau Hall kept a permanent suite of rooms reserved for the Queen and her family whenever she chose to visit us. Kept perfectly, of course, and dusted every day.

When I received my much-prized citizenship, I swore allegiance to the Queen. It was a wonderful day in my life, but I remember wondering why I was not swearing allegiance to Canada. And it occurred to me that this was the first time in my complicated relationship with the Queen that I was formally her subject.

History has its place. We must learn and understand our history, cheer it and cherish it when deserved, learn from it, accept our mistakes and correct them if we can. But we need not be held hostage by it. To stride confidently into the future, we must know where we came from, but we don’t need to be constrained by the past.

As a country made up of so many different peoples – francophones, aboriginals, anglophones, Acadians, new and old immigrants from all corners of the globe – Canada has found a particularly successful narrative in absorbing difference. As Pico Iyer says, we have a “global soul.” We have learned to discard rigidity in favour of gradual accommodation. The citizenship oath could be a much valued opportunity to draw us together in an oath of allegiance to Canada, its laws and its institutions.

Naysayers use the argument that if we don’t like it here, we should stay away. This only serves to draw the lines between us more deeply. I like to invoke the image that new immigrants make Canada their home and in time have the right, nay, the obligation, to rearrange the metaphorical furniture in our new home as part of an engaged citizenry.

But there is middle ground. Let the royalists keep the symbols, the portraits of the Queen, and insert the word “Royal” in front of Canadian institutions such as the Air Force. Let’s wave the Union Jack when a member of the Royal Family visits. Let’s go wild about the Duchess of Cambridge’s newest dress. But let’s change the oath of allegiance, much along the lines of Australia’s. This middle-ground approach can (and should) be imitated in Canada.

Australian Senator Philip Faulkner gave the views of his Labor government when that country shed the sovereign from its citizenship oath in 1994, instead asking for commitment to Australia and its values. He called it “unifying” that “the process of nation-building is enhanced by reinforcing the notion of an ‘Australian’ citizenship. Australian citizenship, with its attendant rights and obligations, is part of the glue which binds the nation and its citizens in a manner that gives adequate recognition to the reciprocity of that bond.”

How true this is of Canada, too.

Note: The origial title of the article is "The Queen and I". The current title is added by the editor of Loving Sister. Thanks to Ratna Omidvar and Maytree Foundation for permission to reprint this article and translate parts of it into Chinese.
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