By Ellis Craig
Four years ago, I was 83 years old, long retired and completely unaware of a talent I had. Now, though, I’m eager to share it.
I happened upon an iconic song by The Seekers called I Am Australian, considered by many as an alternate national anthem. It’s performed on Australia Day and at other events with audiences singing along, waving flags and celebrating being Australian. I realized Canada does not have an equivalent. On each Canada Day, after the singing of O Canada, there is no other patriotic content. Just another concert. I recognized a niche to be filled.
“Why don’t you write one?” a little voice inquired. “Little voice,” I responded, “there is just one problem. I have never written a song in my life.” The seed was sown, however, and with no research whatsoever I came up with the lyrics. They almost created themselves. And everyone I encountered encouraged me to do something with them.
I entitled the song We Are Canadian! As One We Stand and directed it to a lady in the music business. She said these are “fabulous lyrics” and she would ask “Carey” to set them to music. It turned out Carey is Carey Blackwell, a talented Canadian singer, composer and arranger. When Carey’s outstanding musical composition arrived several months later, I asked my mentor why he had done this for me. “Because I told him to,” she replied. Her daughter is married to Carey’s brother, one of his band members.
The song was criticized as being too long—a mini history of Canada. So with Carey no longer available, another gifted singer/songwriter, Alan Sandeman, stepped in and recorded a shortened version. I then created a video to complement the song. It is now approaching 182,000 hits on the Internet.
Reactions to the song have run the gamut from tears and goose bumps to immense pride. There was a standing ovation at a Probus Club meeting and iconic Canadian songbird Anne Murray called it “pretty darn good.”
A chorus from We Are Canadian!
The maple leaf upon our flag, the poppies John McCrae,
The silver cup Lord Stanley, and the chalice from Earl Grey.
Our Snowbirds soaring up the sky and Terry on the run.
As one we stand, we built this land – we are Canadian!
My goal, now, is to convince a high-profile Canadian singer or group to adopt the song, hopefully leading to an invitation from Heritage Canada to perform it at the national Canada Day celebration. Imagine We Are Canadian! being sung by crowds waving Canadian flags? That scenario happens in Australia; why not here? With its emphases on unity, diversity and individual pride in being Canadian, Canada needs this song.
Find We Are Canadian! Online at canadiansatarms.ca under Remembrance: Music and Songs. The latest lyrics can be found under Poems. Two more patriotic songs are also on the site with another on the way.