God of every tongue and nation:
thank you for the multiplicity and beauty of languages,
each one a treasure, each one unmatched and irreplaceable.
Thank you for the slow growth of languages over time,
their plasticity and adaptability,
their ability to convey and carry culture,
the heart of a people.
As a white Canadian, I mourn the colonial decision
to declare only two languages official,
the languages of white people.
Settler peoples waged war on First Nations and Inuit,
doing everything possible to eradicate their mother tongues;
kidnapping and torturing children,
trying to deafen them to the voice of their people.
We lament the peoples and languages that are no more.
We give thanks for the resilience and ingenuity
of indigenous people who refused to forget.
Strengthen all who are working to resuscitate languages
known only to small communities.
When newcomers to Canada
feel they must shed their languages
like coats that no longer fit,
help us to be welcoming of diversity,
celebrating the plural voice.
Open our ears to the virtue of the vernacular.
Set us the multilingual task of learning our own
and each other’s languages by heart,
taking seriously the challenge of
a thousand tongues to sing your praise.