Last night I was stage manager for the Niagara Chinese New Year Gala. First item was singing of the National Anthem by "the children of the Families of Children from China of Niagara" (one of the 5 co-sponsors of the event). The afternoon before the show I arranged a little over a dozen little girls in a semi-circle around 3 microphones on the stage of the Merriton Community Centre and rehearsed them in singing "Oh Canada" all standing at attention heads up, shoulders back looking straight ahead at the audience of 450. All of my singers were girls all adopted from China as infants, youngest now 4 and eldest 9, all dressed in silky qipao looking both insufferably cute and utterly lovely. We went through the anthem 4 times until I got them doing it strongly, committed and without hesitation.
That evening after the Chinese supper was done, the lights dimmed in the hall and the line of girls walked out to the middle of the stage. Cue the music. And they sang out in pure and clear voices radiating with the innocence of Canadian children:
With glowing hearts we see thee rise
The truth north strong and free!
From far and wide, Oh Canada
We stand on guard for thee!
God keep our land glorious and free!
We stand on guard for thee.
My eyes watered a little.
When I am grown old, I will happily leave my Canada in their tender care.
Then the cymbals crashed and the drum boomed and the Lion Dance started our Chinese show off with flurry of joyful noise.