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Belleville singer raising money to re-record “second national anthem”

By Stephanie Clue [1]

BELLEVILLE – A local woman is starting the year off on a high note.

Belleville resident and self-taught musician Jeanette Arsenault is raising money to make a professional recording of her 1992 hit song, This Is My Canada, and at the same time help some Canadian charities.

Arsenault has a GoFundMe [2] page and the proceeds raised will go toward creating an album featuring different versions of the song and an accompanying music video. Any money left over after that, as well as 50 per cent of proceeds from the sales of the album, will go to a list of possible charities, including the Mark Preece House [3] in Hamilton, the Canadian Cancer Society [4], Save the Children Canada [5] and the Salvation Army [6]. She says everything associated with the project will be Canadian.

Belleville’s Jeanette Arsenault hopes to perform her 1992 hit This Is My Canada at the country’s 150th-birthday celebrations in Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Jeanette Arsenault

There is also a possibility that This Is My Canada will be performed in Ottawa during Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

Canadian director Randall Dark will be producing the new music video. Dark was one of the pioneers of high-definition television.

“He’s worked with Willie Nelson [7] and Lyle Lovett [8], to name a few, and he is going to be doing my music video. How cool is that?” said Arsenault.

The song was inspired by her love for Canada, she says. To write it, went to the Ottawa public library to research Canadian inventions and accomplishments. She came up with more information than she needed.

“As I wrote, I realized the song was going to be longer than The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I had 30 pages,” she said.

So she condensed the information down into a three-minute “from-the-heart, proud-to-be-Canadian song.”

Last week, she said, a consultant in the music industry who loves the song got in touch with her, and within 10 days, there was a team of producers, singers and songwriters ready to produce a new version of it.

Over the years Arsenault has been singing This Is My Canada, people have told her how much they love it.

“So many people have said to me, ‘This should be our second national anthem,’ ” she said. “Well, for all of you who have said this – I’m going for it.”

A few months after she first released the song, a French teacher approached her with a request to translate it. As a result, Arsenault created a bilingual version.

“She didn’t do a direct translation of the song, which is the beauty of going from one language to another. She captured the essence of the song in a French version. So I combined the two and re-recorded it, and that’s what got me to the Olympics,” she said.

Arsenault sang it for the Canadian Olympic team at the 2002 Salt Lake City, Utah [9], games and at the 2004 Athens [10] games. She’s also sung it at the Terry Fox statue in Thunder Bay, Ont [11]., and for the Queen in Ottawa during 1992 royal visit.

One of her biggest dreams, Arsenault says, is to have choirs across Canada sing her song.

“Music is in my blood. Music is in my soul. It’s been something that has compelled me since I was five years old. I dreamed of being a singer.”