Ritual is a fundamental element of Ordre de Jacques-Cartier operations because of its secret nature. It prepares and anticipates all possible details in the initiation of new members:
During the first-degree initiation, candidates must, for instance, undergo, in the dark and blindfolded, various tests: bitterness test (bitter liquid), balance test (obstacle board), water test, fire test, and air test (swinging bridge). Drinking from the cup of bitterness symbolizes the strength the candidate requires to face opponents of the Catholic faith and the French language.
The image evoked by the obstacles, crossed with support from two peers, is the importance of brotherhood to pass the tests. The water where the candidate soaks his fingers symbolizes purification and resistance to adverse currents. The flame, near which the candidate passes his hands is the image of energy, which he is expected to demonstrate in the accomplishment of his mission, and symbolizes the vow of everlasting love for his brothers.
Finally, the candidate walks on the swinging bridge, leaning on the arms of his colleagues to avoid falling, in order to better understand that he will reach the summit of his mission, where the air is pure, only through solidarity. Robes and banners, songs and sound effects, and the whole array of elements and objects necessary for initiation bear witness to the importance of ritual.1
1 CRCCF, La présence française en Ontario : 1610, passeport pour 2010, Virtual Exhibit (translated from the original).