Government of Canada

Government of Canada

January 24, 2008 15:00 ET

Statement by the Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP-Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity) on Robbie Burns Day

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 24, 2008) -

It is with great pleasure that I extend greetings to everyone celebrating Robbie Burns Day.

The remembrance of Robert Burns at dinners in homes and halls across the Dominion today is a tribute not only to Burns the poet, who is justly lauded and loved around the world, but also to those Canadians for whom Burns has been and continues to be an inspiring figure. In statues across Canada, from Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, to Square Dorchester in Montreal, to Victoria Park in Halifax, Burns stands as a dauntless romantic figure, the embodiment of the independent spirit of those Scottish settlers who left their homeland to build a new home in the young territory of Canada. The ubiquity of Burns's image and verse in squares and parks throughout Canada is evidence of his enduring art and power to influence us more than two centuries and half a world away.

Burns's poetry has a timeless appeal because its themes are universal, as relevant to us today as they were to eighteenth century Scots. In his day, Burns bestrode the linguistic and cultural divide between the Highlands and the Lowlands that characterized Scotland at the time, exemplifying the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between two distinct cultural traditions. As a proud Scot, the Bard of Ayrshire immortalized his beloved landscape as the "birth place of Valour, the country of Worth." But as a poet of the Enlightenment, he also celebrated the essential equality of men of good faith the world over. For Burns, regardless of ancestry, accent, or accident of birth, so long as he is "honest," of "independent mind," and possessed of "the pith o' sense, an pride o' worth," then "A Man's a Man for a' that."

As Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity) and on behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to join all Canadians in toasting the life, the works, and the "Immortal Memory" of Robbie Burns.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Jason Kenney, PC, MP,
    Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)
    Alykhan Velshi
    Director of Communications