• Home - Northern Lights — Sound and light show
  • About

Watch Northern Lights

To keep your virtual experience as close as possible to what you would have experienced in person on Parliament Hill, the narration and dialogue are presented in their original version, alternating between English and French throughout the show. For a translation when the dialogue switches languages, select the cc (closed captioning) button on the video player.


For a better visual experience, double-click on the video to expand to full screen.

Transcript of Northern Lights

Video length: 00:35:41

The narration and dialogue alternate between French and English in this video.

[bells ringing]

[clocks ticking]

Narrator: Canada is the expression of a nation’s vision, its hopes and its spirit, under great northern skies.

[Translated from French] Canada embodies the spirit and ideals of a hope-filled people.

[intense music]

If we would know something of the future, we have only to look at our past.


[Translated from French] Our past illuminates our future.

[A countdown from 2023 to 1916 is projected on the Parliament.]

[ticking and whooshing]

[creaking and booming]

[stones scraping]

The first Canadian Parliament stood on this same hill for 50 years.

[Translated from French] A symbol of the dreams and aspirations of an entire nation, the original Parliament buildings burned down.

[flames whooshing, fire crackling]

Man: Take the documents!

Man 2: [Translated from French] The furniture!

Narrator: The fire intensified, fanned to a raging inferno by strong winter winds from the north.

Man 2: [Translated from French] The documents! The painting!

Narrator: [Translated from French] Fanned by the north winds, the fire raged.

[glass shattering]

Man 2: [Translated from French] The Library!

Man: The Library!

Man 3: Someone, close the fire doors!

Narrator: One man’s quick thinking saved our early memories.

[Translated from French] With this one simple act, our memories were saved.


Only the Library survived. But more than smoke rose from the ashes. The sparks ascending from the rubble that cold winter night carried the spirit of Canada aloft.

[Translated from French] All around the miraculously spared Library, the spirit of Canada rose from the ashes.

[inspiring music]

The story that will unfold tonight emerges from the pages of these 5 books.

[Translated from French] These 5 books will take us on an epic voyage.

[ethereal singing]

[The words “Foundations of the Nation” appear.]

[rhythmic drumming]

[gentle string music]

[geese honking]

Narrator: Since time immemorial, people from far and near chose to call the True North strong and free “home.”

[Translated from French] With its unrivalled natural beauty and riches, Canada attracted people from the beginning.

[geese honking]

A land of beauty and great wealth in resources and people.

[Translated from French] These riches come from the earth, yes, but above all, from the peoples that flourished there.

[ethereal singing]

[thundering hooves]

[wood creaking]

In the far north, the people thrive in all seasons in what seems a vast, hostile land.

[Translated from French] Even in the places where the infinite horizon seems so hostile, the peoples of the North thrive.

[waves crashing]

[birds chirping]

[Translated from French] Necessity prompted the first encounters: furs, tools, and know-how.

Mutual interest and the desire for fur, tools, and knowledge motivated the first exchanges.

Europeans were drawn by the bounty of the sea.

[Translated from French] The fish and the land attracted the first Europeans, including the Acadians, who made it their own by turning marshland into farmland.

French settlers transformed the land they called Acadia.

[Translated from French] But Europe’s political upheavals would soon devastate Acadia.

Turmoil in Europe reached across the Atlantic. Families, whole communities, were uprooted and exiled.

Struggle for control gripped North America. Territory held by France was ceded to Britain after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

[Translated from French] North America erupted. And France ceded its colonies to the British.

[flames whooshing]

French culture flourished all across Canada.

[Translated from French] The French language and culture thrived. Even the star of Acadia’s spirit continues to shine, resilient, enriching our country. For despite the exile, many returned.

Loyalty and the yearning for freedom fed powerful urges.

[Translated from French] Americans who stayed loyal to the British crown found refuge and freedom here.

Those who remained loyal to the British crown after America’s struggle for independence fled north and found a new home.

[inspiring music]

[Translated from French] Whether people were from Upper or Lower Canada, the desire to protect our homes was already strong when the Americans began to covet our lands in 1812.

In the War of 1812, English and French-speaking farmers took up arms alongside British regulars, Black men who had fled north to freedom, and thousands of First Nations warriors.

[Translated from French] Together, the inhabitants of Upper and Lower Canada held off the enemy and protected their borders.

[guns shooting]

Canada has always meant home. It has meant strength, freedom, and pride of place under great northern skies.

[Translated from French] Together, people from here and from around the world built Canada.

People from all over the world expand our foundations as our country continues to grow.

[ethereal singing]

[high-pitched shooting from lasers]

[clocks ticking]

[fast-paced string music]


[gentle music]

Narrator: The country’s vast resources would certainly create enormous opportunity... for some. A better life for all would require cooperation and democracy.

[The words “Quest For Democracy” appear.]

[Translated from French] Shared goals and a common vision brought us together.

In the early 1800’s, the British crown in London controlled the distribution of power and wealth in British North America. Settlers deprived of the right to vote resented the local cliques of elites.

[Translated from French] Denied their right to vote, settlers challenged the elite and their control of British North America.

Newsie 1: Colonies demand elected assemblies and self-government.

Newsie 2: [Translated from French] London says “no” to responsible government. Patriotes take up arms!

Newsie 1: British soldiers crush the rebellion!

Newsie 2: [Translated from French] 1,000 men gather in Toronto to seize control of the government.

Newsie 3: Loyalist volunteers drive back the rebels!

Newsie 1: Papineau leads second rebellion in Montréal!

Newsie 2: [Translated from French] Volunteers defeat rebels and burn their homes!

Newsie 3: 325 dead! 99 rebels sentenced to death!

Narrator: The Legislative Assembly attempted to restore peace by offering pardons to former rebels and compensation for damage to homes and farms.

[Translated from French] To restore peace, the governor honoured the principle of responsible government and for the Rebellion Losses Bill. The Loyalists were furious and gathered at Place d’Armes.

Newsie 1: Thousands of loyalists gather at Place d’Armes to protest the Rebellion Losses Bill!

Speaker 1: We must send a petition to the Queen in London!

Speaker 2: The time for petitions is over. It’s time to march on the House of Assembly!

Newsie 2: [Translated from French] Representatives flee as the House of Assembly burns!

Newsie 3: Rioters claim victory!

Narrator: Canada’s new experiment in responsible government survived the 1849 riot. The colonies began to speak of greater cooperation and confederation.

[Translated from French] After the 1849 uprisings, the colonies became more open to cooperation, made all the more necessary by the threat of American expansionism.

Woman: The Americans have ambitions for our western territories. Britain may soon abandon us.

[piano music]

Narrator: Colonial leaders gathered in Charlottetown and Québec City in 1864 and 1865 to discuss plans for a federal union between the colonies.

[Translated from French] Colonial leaders negotiated the creation of a federal union.

Feo Monck: We arrived here today. Crowds of people were on board, going to the delegates’ ball tonight.

Narrator: [Translated from French] Between the celebrations and banquets, delegates worked for 4 days to set out the underlying principles of Confederation.

George Brown: We are gathered here to address the agitations in our country and the fierce contests; the strife and the discord and the abuse of many years!

Narrator: [Translated from French] Later, in Québec City, delegates continued the negotiations.

Leaders continued their negotiations, where they agreed upon the 72 resolutions that formed the basis of the new Dominion of Canada. When the Québec City conference concluded, George Brown excitedly wrote to his wife Anne.

George Brown: All right! At 6 o’clock this evening, the constitution was adopted! It is a most creditable document, a complete reform of all the abuses and injustices we have complained of! Hurrah!

George-Étienne Cartier: [Translated from French] Some parties have alleged that confederation will never function, on account of the differences of races and religions. It is precisely because of these differences in race and of local interests, that the federal system must be established, and will work well.

Narrator: The new nation of Canada had a representational government elected by Canadians, but not all peoples in Canada had the right to vote. And not everyone had equal rights under the law.

[Translated from French] Although the country was governed by an elected assembly, not everyone was equal before the law.

In 1869, Canada purchased Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, without consulting the people of the Red River. The Métis resisted by seizing Upper Fort Garry.

[Translated from French] To protect their territory, representatives of the Red River negotiated the terms that would lead to the creation of the province of Manitoba.

The Métis formed a provisional government to defend their territories, assert their rights, and negotiate the terms of Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. Some of the promises were never fulfilled.

[The "Infinity" sign appears.]

[acoustic guitar music]

Building the railway across sinking swamps and through soaring Rocky Mountain peaks was an extraordinary engineering feat. The railway was part of a plan to invite millions of new settlers from around the world to occupy the prairies.

[Translated from French] The national policy that led to the creation of the railway, forced Indigenous peoples from their traditional lands to make way for immigrants from around the world.

The national policy expelled Indigenous peoples who had inhabited the lands for millennia.

Economic development spread across the country, bringing with it many benefits for Canadians.

[Translated from French] As a prosperous and welcoming country, Canada has an enviable reputation for multiculturalism.

Canada is respected worldwide as a land of inclusive multiculturalism that has accepted many people.

[flags flapping]

But the benefits of economic prosperity have not been shared equally.

Chinese labourers hired to build the Canadian Pacific Railroad encountered intense racism. When a head tax failed to discourage immigration, Canada imposed the Chinese Immigration Act to shut the borders to immigrants from China.

[Translated from French] Under the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, Canada banned almost all Chinese immigration.

Canada has discriminated against specific immigrant groups and the Indigenous peoples who inhabited this land since time immemorial.

[Translated from French] This country was built at the expense of certain immigrant groups, and especially of Indigenous peoples.

The sustained policy to assimilate Indigenous peoples was a shameful example of racism and of Canada’s colonial policies.

[Translated from French] Acknowledgement of the tragic, painful history of residential schools and their lasting effects is essential for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

We are finally recognizing the hard truth of the trauma it caused and are seeking reconciliation with survivors, and all Indigenous peoples.

[whooshing and zapping]

[intense music]

[clocks ticking]


[music quiets]

Narrator: There is something in the Canadian spirit which craves a quest.

[Translated from French] The desire to excel always pushes us further.

[The words “Discovery and Adventure” appear.]

Quests are real and imagined voyages of exploration.

[Translated from French] Every quest, real or imagined, leads us on a journey.

To early explorers, like John Cabot and Jacques Cartier, this meant finding the courage to face the unknown on a vast ocean.

[Translated from French] Beyond a vast ocean, peoples and undreamed-of riches awaited Cabot and Cartier.

On the east coast, seafaring adventurers found peoples and riches untold. Separated by 200 years, neither Henry Hudson nor John Franklin realized their ambition: finding a Northwest Passage to the riches of the East.

[Translated from French] Hudson and Franklin did everything in their power to try to find the Northwest Passage.

Captain George Vancouver witnessed unparalleled natural beauty while mapping on the Pacific coast late in the 18th century. He encountered prosperous, sophisticated societies.

[Translated from French] In mapping the Pacific coast, George Vancouver went beyond the ideas of the time, encountering societies rich with wisdom and knowledge.

Explorers, like La Vérendrye, often followed well-established trade routes cut by generations of Indigenous travellers.

[Translated from French] It was thanks to the knowledge of Indigenous peoples that La Vérendrye explored the West.

[hooves rumbling]

[Translated from French] And it was through wanting to succeed where others had failed that Mackenzie happened upon a mighty river.

What Mackenzie finds in the far north is spectacular: the sprawling estuary of a great river that today bears his name.

Man: All aboard!

[train chugging]

Narrator: [Translated from French] The transcontinental railway crossed the mountains, creating a link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

2 ribbons of steel connected Canada from East to West.

[train rattling]

Charles Edward Saunders’ hardy, fast-maturing wheat and the dedicated work of western farm families brought them prosperity and helped feed the world.

[Translated from French] A new variety of wheat developed by Charles Saunders brought prosperity to families in the West and helped feed the planet.

In their own way, scientists are inventors and explorers. Doctor Frederick Banting had a vision to revolutionize the fight against diabetes that would save millions of lives.

[Translated from French] Doctor Frederick Banting and his team isolated insulin. Thanks to these Canadian researchers from the University of Toronto, hundreds of millions of people with diabetes can enjoy a healthy, active life.

[inspiring music]

[Translated from French] In his own way, Alexander Graham Bell was also a great explorer.

Alexander Graham Bell brought us closer with the invention of the telephone and the flight of the Silver Dart, the first powered aircraft to fly in Canada.

[Translated from French] His inventions amazed an entire generation and changed the world forever.

Mastery of the air assured rapid travel and communication with remote regions.

[Translated from French] Having mastered the air, we pushed the boundaries of our imagination, defied gravity and reached a place of endless possibilities...

Our strength as innovators and our thirst for adventure has thrust the Canadian spirit beyond the bounds of gravity into the boundless possibilities of space.


[high-pitched shooting from laser]

[clocks ticking]



[stone scraping]

[The word “Valour” appears.]

Narrator: In 1914, war engulfs Europe. Canada stands determined with Britain and the allies.

The mud, the trenches, the horrors of the First World War raised the hope it would be the war to end war.

[Translated from French] The war of 1914 to 1918 was called the war to end all wars. It was so horrific, people hoped it would be the last.

Private Frank Lind: Tell all our friends that the first Newfoundland is okay. We will make you all proud.

[explosions rumbling]


Narrator: Over 800 Newfoundlanders gave their best that day, but only 68 answered roll call the next morning.

[Translated from French] They say that these young men swung into action, heads down, like fishermen in a squall, battling until they reached port.

[Translated from French] Of the 801 Newfoundlanders who fought in the battle, 68 answered roll call the next morning. A generation lost.

Attempts at taking Vimy Ridge cost the British and the French hundreds of thousands of casualties. In the spring of 1917, Canadians are asked to try again.

[Translated from French] Where thousands of others had failed, Canadians were asked to do the impossible.

Private William Henry Bell: We are out of the trenches, training to go over the top. We’ll be doing the real thing in a couple of days.

Narrator: The 4 Canadian divisions fought together for the first time. The artillery led the way.

[Translated from French] Our artillery pounded the enemy, and all our troops formed a united front for the first time.

Nursing Sister Alice Isaacson: Success always means so many wounded, and it’s so cold and wet; snow today, forming a deep, soft slush.

Private Charlie Ross Francis: [Translated from French] The noise was unbearable, the machine guns, the mortars, the cannons. There were so many shells, you couldn’t see the sky.

Narrator: Together, they reached their objective.

[Translated from French] Within a few hours, they achieved the impossible. But all too soon, tyranny resurfaced.

In 1939, Canadians stood ready to fight again.

[Translated from French] The efforts of all Canadians were mobilized. On the country’s farms and in its factories, more than a million women replaced the men who had gone to the front. One of them, electrical engineer Elsie MacGill, supervised a whole team of engineers working on the production of warplanes.

During the war effort, more than a million women replaced men on farms and in factories. Known as the “Queen of the Hurricanes,” Elsie MacGill gave a bold face to the newly empowered women of Canada. The first female electrical engineer in the country, she was also the first woman to work as a professional aircraft designer.

W. L. Mackenzie King: The government received official word that the invasion of Western Europe has begun. The Canadian troops were among the Allied Forces who landed this morning on the northern coast of France.

[tense military music]

[airplanes whooshing]

W. L. Mackenzie King: The fighting is certain to be heavy, but we have every reason for confidence in the final outcome.

Lance Corporal Hermel Pelletier: [Translated from French] The seas were stormy, everyone was thrown one on top of the other. We spotted the village, the houses were burning, and the beaches were mined.

Able Seaman Earl Grey: They were brave men. If there’s any such a thing as a hero on D-Day, it was the first assault troops that went ashore.

Private Jacques Raymond: [Translated from French] All we could hear was an infernal noise, the planes overhead, the boats that were firing and the counterattack of the Germans.

W.L. Mackenzie King: Let the hearts of all in Canada today be filled with silent prayer for the success of our own and Allied Forces, and for the early liberation of the peoples of Europe.

[triumphant music]

[troops shouting]

Narrator: Canadians drove the axis forces back, liberating the people as we went.

[Translated from French] The end of the Second World War marked the beginning of new friendships between peoples. And every spring since then, the blooming of thousands of tulips rekindles the memory.

Every spring, Dutch tulips bloom in our capital, as a long-lasting tribute to our efforts, and as a symbol of their gratitude.

After Canada signed the United Nations’ Charter of Human Rights in 1945, it could no longer defend its anti-Chinese policies. Canada repealed the Chinese Immigration Act, but full equality was not achieved until 20 years later when all immigration restrictions on the basis of race and national origin were finally removed.

[Translated from French] In 1947, the Chinese Immigration Act was abolished. However, it took another 20 years before all restrictions based on race or country of origin were eliminated.

The end of the Second World War brought an uneasy peace as western democracies and the USSR continued their hostilities in a cold war. Canada committed resources and personnel around the world.

[Translated from French] During the Cold War between Western countries and the Soviet Union, the role of Canadians stretched around the world.

The 21st century brought a new set of challenges. Once again, Canada responded.

[Translated from French] Faced with the challenges of the 21st century, Canada took action.

[helicopter propellers whirring]

[somber music]

Narrator: At home, we honour those who fought, those who fell.

[Translated from French] We remember those who served for us. We honour them on a ridge in France.

On a ridge in France, on land offered by a grateful nation, the Vimy Memorial stands on soil which will forever be part of Canada. Here, in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower, those who lost their lives are honoured in the Books of Remembrance.

[Translated from French] And here as well, in the Books of Remembrance.

Lest we forget.

[Translated from French] We will remember them.

[upbeat, inspiring music]

Narrator: Canada is populated by people with roots in every region of the world. Our achievements inspire a vision of the future worthy of the sacrifices of the past.

[Translated from French] Our nation is alive with people whose roots reach around the world. As we build the future, we are inspired by the past.

[The words "Pride and Vision” appear.]

[melodious singing]

From the beginning, Canada’s landscape has humbled us, raised our hopes, and inspired us to dream.

[Translated from French] The beauty and sheer size of Canada inspire us, allowing us to dream.

Emily Carr: It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw. She is something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power you are part of.

Narrator: Jean-Paul Riopelle’s works of lyrical beauty were inspired by the natural world.

Jean-Paul Riopelle: [Translated from French] In the way that it is organized, nature is my point of reference.

Narrator: Our national passions are tied to love of home, the comfort of fellowship, and a deep commitment to advance the common good.

[Translated from French] We dedicate our passions to the common good, to solidarity.

His Majesty King Charles III: I’ve seen what makes this country truly great. Her people and what they stand for. Outward looking, big-hearted and embodying Canada’s inherently global values.

Gabriel Dumont: [Translated from French] The truest democracy is a democracy where minorities can flourish.

Senator James Gladstone: Someday this country will come of age, and all people, whatever their national differences, will unite as one nation.

Rosemary Brown: We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through.

Narrator: [Translated from French] Viola Desmond, a Black businesswoman, bravely spoke out about the injustice she suffered after being arrested in a section reserved for whites in a movie theatre.

Viola Desmond: I didn’t realize a thing like this could happen in Nova Scotia — or in any part of Canada.

Narrator: Viola Desmond’s courageous battle against racial segregation was a powerful inspiration to future generations demanding equality.

In Canada, we are free to love whom we want to love.

[Translated from French] We are free to be who we are.

Lester B. Pearson: Under this flag, may our youth find new inspiration for loyalty to Canada.

Narrator: [Translated from French] May this flag inspire every generation of new Canadians.

["O Canada" playing]

♪ O Canada! ♪

♪ Our home and native land! ♪

♪ True patriot love ♪

♪ In all of us command ♪

♪ With glowing hearts we see thee rise ♪

♪ The True North strong and free! ♪

♪ From far and wide O Canada ♪

♪ We stand on guard for thee ♪

♪ God keep our land ♪

♪ Glorious and free ♪

♪ O Canada ♪

♪ We stand on guard ♪

♪ For thee ♪

♪ O Canada ♪

♪ We stand on guard ♪

♪ For thee ♪

[bells ringing]

[The Canada Wordmark appears.]

Page details

Date modified: