The way that Canadians have responded to the death of Jack Layton has struck me as – – very Canadian.
Jack….for that is what he liked to called….was never our Prime Minister. He was never a member of the federal cabinet. He was only the leader of the Official Opposition for a few short months.
He was given a state funeral. He lay in state first in Ottawa and then in Toronto.
His funeral was held in Roy Thomson Hall. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed. Richard Underhill of The Shuffle Demons played a haunting rendition of Into the Mystic.
The first blessing at the funeral was given by Shawn Atleo (national chief of the Assembly of First Nations) in an aboriginal language. He concluded that blessing by giving a white eagle feather to Olivia Chow (Jack\’s widow.)
Rev. Brent Hawkes, explained that he was wearing his academic gown to officiate at the funeral in order not to give precedence to any one religion. Later on in the service Hawkes made reference to his own husband, John.
There were readings from the Bible. There was a reading from the
Stephen Lewis gave a rousing eulogy that spoke often about the causes that were most important to Jack (aids, gay rights, violence against women, homelessness). Lewis reminded the audience that Jack\’s last letter to Canadians was a manifesto for social democracy.
Steve Page (of Barenaked Ladies) sang Leonard\’s Cohen\’s Hallelujah.
Martin Deschamps (soloist and lead singer of Offenbach) with Bernard Quessy performed Croire.
Lorraine Segato (Parachute Club) performed Rise Up
Julie Michels and the Choir of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto performed Chet Powers\’ Get Together
The funeral is available on demand from the CBC website.
Today I am feeling very Canadian. We are geographically large and numerically small country. We are a people of many languages, religions and belief systems. We break into applause at the rallying cry \”for social justice.\”
Today I feel I am a citizen of no mean country.