Sunday, June 18, 2017

Canada 150 Reading List - new additions for June!

With July 1st quickly approaching, more and more articles have come out about Canada 150. I've selected a handful of the best articles, with a particular focus on those that discuss Indigenous responses to Canada 150. I particularly recommend listening to the poetry! The latest issue of Canada's History Magazine also has several excellent articles.


Academic articles 

These are all accessible by searching from the SFU Library homepage. 

Hayday, Matthew. “Fireworks, Folk-Dancing, and Fostering a National Identity: The Politics of Canada Day.” The Canadian Historical Review 91, no. 2 (May 27, 2010): 287–314. doi:10.1353/can.0.0317.

Rutherdale, Myra, and Jim Miller. “‘It’s Our Country’: First Nations’ Participation in the Indian Pavilion at Expo 67.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 17, no. 2 (2006): 148–73. doi:10.7202/016594ar.

Strong-Boag, Veronica. “Experts on Our Own Lives: Commemorating Canada at the Beginning of the 21st Century.” The Public Historian 31, no. 1 (February 2009): 46–68. doi:10.1525/tph.2009.31.1.46.



Assorted analyses

Dehaas, Josh. “4 ‘Lost Stories’ from Canadian History Being Told through Public Art.” CTV News, June 5, 2017. 

D’Haene, Donald. “Learning My Immigrant Mother’s Native Language Became My Mission.” The Huffington Post, June 5, 2017. 

Ennab, Fadi. “Talking Back to the Citizenship Oath.” Briarpatch, May 1, 2017. 

Renezetti, Elizabeth. “Look Away from the Giant Duck, and Listen to Real Concerns over Canada 150.” The Globe and Mail. June 2, 2017. 

Wells, Paul. “A New Survey Explores What Makes Us Canadian.” Macleans, June 1, 2017. 


Unbridled consumerism!

“Royale Toilet Paper’s Moving Tribute to Canada 150 Speaks to the Rich Fabric of This Great Nation.” Vancouver Courier, June 6, 2017. 

Buck, Genna. “D’oh Canada: A Look at the Best/Worst Products Inspired by the Nation’s 150th Birthday,” June 13, 2017.

Hutchins, Aaron. “Four Bizarre Things Governments Spent Money on for Canada 150.” Macleans, June 14, 2017. 

Stewart, Dave. “P.E.I. Expo Highlights the Latest in Funeral Services, Including a Canada 150 Coffin.” The Guardian, June 7, 2017. 


Indigenous Commentary/Action/Resistance

Beaton, Sadie. “De-Celebrating Canada 150.” The Coast Halifax, June 1, 2017. 

Bugler, Cody. “#Canada150: Country Doesn’t Own the Title to the Land It’s Celebrating - APTN NewsAPTN News,” May 29, 2017.

Dimoff, Anna. “Rethink 150 Promotes Commemoration through First Nations Perspective.” CBC News, May 19, 2017. 

Dinshaw, Fram. “Tree Planting Symbol of Reconciliation, Fighting Climate Change for Canada 150.” The Chronicle Herald, June 10, 2017. 

Gill, Jordan. “Fredericton’s Canada 150 Funding Largely Focused on ‘Indigenous Reconciliation.’” CBC News, June 10, 2017. 

Jaswal, Yasmin. “Calgary Students Call for Clean Water for Canada’s 150 Birthday |” Global News, June 6, 2017. 

Lum, Zi-Ann. “N.S. Coffee House Puts Up One Hell Of A Canada 150 Sign.” The Huffington Post, June 13, 2017. 

Macdonald, Moira. “Six Indigenous Scholars Share Their Views of Canada at 150.” University Affairs, June 7, 2017. 

Manuel, Arthur. “Until Canada Gives Indigenous People Their Land Back, There Can Never Be Reconciliation.” Rabble, January 18, 2017. 

Nation-Knapper, Stacy. “Whose Canada150?: Listening beyond Colonial Narratives.” Beyond Borders: The New Canadian History, May 15, 2017. 

Pablo, Carlito. “National Aboriginal Day 2017: Ginger Gosnell-Myers Works to Build a City of Reconciliation.” Georgia Straight Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly, June 14, 2017. 

Steward, Gillian. “It’s Time to Recognize First Nations as Founders of Canada.” The Toronto Star, June 13, 2017. 

Tabobondung, Rebeka. “Celebrating Collective Amnesia — Why I Won’t Be There for the Fireworks.”, May 31, 2017. 

Williamson, Tara. “Canada’s Vanishing Point: Reconciliation and the Erasure of Indian Personhood.” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, May 1, 2017. 


Indigenous Responses: Poetry

Christi Belcourt, and Onaman Collective. CANADA, I Can Cite for You 150. Accessed June 18, 2017. 

Knott, Helen. “Canada 150. We Are Still Here or Have You Forgotten?” Reclaim the Warrior, July 17, 2016. 

Rogers, Janet. “Has Anything Changed? Revisiting Chief Dan George’s Iconic ‘Lament for Confederation’ | CBC Canada 2017,” May 5, 2017. [make sure to watch the embedded video, and scroll to the bottom for a follow-up poem on Soundcloud]

Sumner, Leonard. “‘I Know You’re Sorry:’ One Anishinaabe MC and Poet’s Response to All of Canada’s Apologies | CBC Canada 2017,” June 9, 2017. [responding to the apology that William Lindsay discussed in class last week]


Canada 150 Tulips

“Canada 150 Tulips: Gardening Diaries from across the Country | CBC Canada 2017.” Accessed April 26, 2017.

“Patriotic Tulips Not Delivering on Canada 150 Colours.” CBC News. Accessed May 4, 2017. 

Csernyik, Rob. “Tiptoe through the Canada 150 Tulips.” Edmonton Sun. Accessed June 15, 2017. 

Gushue, Lisa. “Moose Noshes on Canada 150 Tulip Display at MUN Botanical Garden.” CBC News, May 21, 2017. 

National Capital Commission. “The Canada 150 Tulip Was a Labour Of Love and National Pride" National Capital Commission, June 15, 2017. 


Films and Podcasts

Big Thinking - Matthew Hayday - “Canadian-Ness,” Citizen Engagement, and Canada 150, 2017.  [54 minutes]

Manuel, Arthur. 150 Years of Canadian Colonization, 2016.“Arthur Manuel is a Secwepemc-Ktunaca activist. He discusses colonization in Canada and how this systemically impoverished Indigenous Peoples for generations. If Canada is going to renew its relationship with Indigenous Peoples it must recognize the colonial relationship it has with Indigenous Peoples. Canada must recognize that this colonial relationship gives Indigenous Peoples the right to self-determination. This will become clearer when Canada celebrates 150 years of its settler colonial relationship with Britain in 2017.”

McKenzie, Cheryl. “Indigenous Perspectives of Canada 150.” InFocus. APTN, May 17, 2017. [50-minute TV program]

“Noah Richler and Jack Granatstein Debate Canada’s History at the Great Canadian Debates.” Macdonald-Laurier Institute, March 29, 2017.  [92 minutes] “Is Canada’s at-times lamentable history the engine that propelled us to a more modern, enlightened future? Can the flaws of our historical figures be explained in the context of their times? Or should we continue to feel ashamed of the calamitous chapters of our past?”

Tremonti, Anna-Maria. “What Does Canada 150 Mean for Indigenous Communities?” The Current. CBC, March 16, 2017. A podcast featuring interviews with three Indigenous community leaders


Canada: The Story of Us

 “The Making of Canada: The Story Of Us | CBC Canada 2017,” April 10, 2017. 

A Group of Canadian History Experts Discuss Some of the Different Perspectives on Our History | CBC Canada 2017, 2017. The CBC’s discussion of its controversial commemorative program, and a panel of historians addressing the show.

Boisvert, Yves. “In Canada, We Are All Others – Which Makes a Story of Us Impossible.” The Globe and Mail, April 12, 2017. 

Doyle, John. “John Doyle: Why the Fuss about Funding We Are Canada? It’s Just Tedious TV.” The Globe and Mail, April 25, 2017. 

Macpherson, Don. “Don Macpherson: The Story of Us Isn’t.” Montreal Gazette, April 21, 2017. 

Szklarski, Cassandra. “Historians and Filmmakers Dissect CBC’s Maligned Doc Series ‘The Story of Us.’” Times Colonist. Accessed April 27, 2017. 

Yeo, Debra. “Canada: A People’s History Returns for Canada 150 | Toronto Star.” The Toronto Star, June 9, 2017. 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Canada 150 Reading List (part 2 - books)

If you want more in-depth discussion than you've found in articles, check out these books on commemoration, Canada 150, and reconciliation. I have not yet read all of these - this is my own reading list as well! Part 3 will be up in a couple of days. As always, suggestions and reviews are welcome.

What a peculiarly nationalist text...

Books Published For Canada 150

Gray, Charlotte. The Promise of Canada: 150 Years--People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. 1st edition. Simon & Schuster, 2016. Available at the Vancouver and Burnaby public libraries.

Johnston, David. The Idea of Canada: Letters to a Nation. Signal, 2016. Available as a book or e-book at the Vancouver public library, or at the Burnaby public library.

Russell, Peter H. Canada’s Odyssey: A Country Based on Incomplete Conquests. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017. Available at the Vancouver public library.

Tait, Myra, and Kiera Ladner, eds. Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal. Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2017. Available at the Vancouver and Burnaby public libraries.

Urquhart, Jane. A Number of Things: Stories About Canada Told Through 50 Objects. 1st Edition edition. Toronto, Ontario: Patrick Crean Editions, 2016. Available at the Vancouver and Burnaby public libraries.

Analyses of commemoration in historical context

These texts are not specific to Canada150, but provide historical context to our celebrations. Note that most of them are written by settlers of European ancestry. I can also recommend readings on specific incidences of commemoration and representations of the past in Canadian history.

Conrad, Margaret, Gerald Friesen, Jocelyn Létourneau, D. A. Muise, Peter C. Seixas, David A. Northrup, and Kadriye Ercikan. Canadians and Their Pasts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. At SFU and BPL.

Gordon-Walker, Caitlin. Exhibiting Nation: Multicultural Nationalism (and Its Limits) in Canada’s Museums. Vancouver ; Toronto: UBC Press, 2016. SFU e-book.

Hayday, Mathew, and Raymond B. Blake, eds. Celebrating Canada: Holidays, National Days, and the Crafting of Identities. University of Toronto Press, 2016. SFU e-book and at VPL.

MacMillan, Margaret. The Uses and Abuses of History. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2009. At SFU, VPL, and BPL.

Morgan, Cecilia Louise. Commemorating Canada: History, Heritage, and Memory, 1850s-1990s. Themes in Canadian History 14. Toronto ; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2016. At SFU and VPL.

Neatby, Nicole, and Peter Hodgins. Settling and Unsettling Memories: Essays in Canadian Public History. Toronto ; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2012. At SFU library.

Sandwell, Ruth, ed. To the Past: History Education, Public Memory, and Citizenship in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006. At SFU and BPL.

Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous histories, and Decolonization

This is a small selection of the available books on this topic; I've chosen the four that I'm most excited to read this year. 

Manuel, Arthur. Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015. At SFU, VPL, and BPL.

Simpson, Leanne, ed. Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence, and Protection of Indigenous Nations. 1 edition. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2008. At SFU and VPL.

Sinclair, Murray, Chief Wilton Littlechild, and Dr Marie Wilson. What We Have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation. Original edition. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015. Available online through SFU.

Vowel, Chelsea. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada. HighWater Press, 2016. At SFU, VPL, and BPL.

Just for Fun

Fun fact: A surprising number of cookbooks turn up in the search results for "Canada 150" on Amazon. None of them have anything to do with Canada 150.

Covello, Paul, and Leor Boshi. Canada 150 Colouring Book. Collins, 2016. No drawing in library books! But you can buy your own copy.

Sherk, Lawrence C., and Ian Coutts. 150 Years of Canadian Beer Labels. Victoria, BC: TouchWood Editions, 2016. At VPL and BPL.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Canada 150 Reading List (part 1 - news articles and blog posts)

This summer, I'll be teaching a community service learning course, FASS 250, in which students will critically engage with the Canada 150 events in the BC Lower Mainland through volunteer work, guest presentations, and seminar discussions. The items included here are optional readings for the course. This list is current as of April 24, 2017. I anticipate many updates through the spring and summer! Comments with suggestions of other resources are very welcome. I am also preparing lists of books, films, and podcasts relating to this topic.

Image courtesy of Rethink Red Deer site, and chosen for its comedic value.

General Discussions of Canada 150

Cameron, Duncan. “It’s Been 150 Years of Canadian Politics. What Comes Next?” Rabble, January 3, 2017. “Whatever the public relations designs for marking this 150th year, it should also allow for extended critical reflection on what history has to suggest for Canadian politics today.”

Couture, Christa. “Canada Is Celebrating 150 Years Of… What, Exactly? | CBC Canada 2017,” January 1, 2017. Questioning how we determine the age of a country.

Crawford, Blair. “Immigrants Are Most Excited about Canada 150 Celebrations; Quebecers — Not so Much.” The Ottawa Citizen; Ottawa, Ont., January 6, 2017. “The newest Canadians are the ones most pumped up to celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial in 2017.”

Everett-green, Robert. “Montreal Can Count on a Double Payout, Sharing a Birthday with Canada.” The Globe and Mail, January 9, 2017. “Canada 150 is also Montreal 375, as anyone who lives here can’t fail to know. In public discourse, the two fêtes are like paired runners in a three-legged race: One can’t appear without the other.”

Hayday, Mathew. “Debate over Celebrating Canada’s 150th May Just Be a Sign We’re a Healthy Democracy.” Ottawa Citizen, February 20, 2017. How should we interpret dissent surrounding Canada150?

Krashinsky Robertson, Susan. “Tchotchkes and T-Shirts: Selling Canada 150: From Hudson’s Bay to Roots, the Sesquicentennial and Its Appetite for Celebratory Souvenirs Is Being Seen as a Profit-Driver for Brands.” The Globe and Mail. March 3, 2017. Commodification of Canada150.

Levesque, Lia. “PQ Launches Alternative Canada 150 Campaign.” The Globe and Mail, January 7, 2017. “The “Other 150” campaign isn’t designed to derail Ottawa’s party, but will “put holes” in the official narrative and highlight Quebec’s history and importance.”

Meloney, Nic. “Tying Mi’kmaq-Acadian Celebration to Canada 150 Brings Mixed Feelings.” CBC News, March 21, 2017. “The man behind this summer's celebration of the "historic relationship" between Acadians and the Mi'kmaq says the event is intended to mark reconciliation efforts as Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.”

Peace, Thomas. “Canadians and Their Pasts on the Road to Confederation.”, January 20, 2014. A discussion of the Canadians and their Pasts book, situating the Canada150 celebrations within the political context of the Harper government.

Historians Respond to Canada150

Dummit, Christopher. “Canada 150: What’s to Celebrate?”, April 21, 2017. “But celebrations of the nation state often seem intrinsically troublesome – something [historians] study rather than take part in.” This discussion of the disjuncture between historians and Canadians more broadly is the subject of some controversy in the field.

Eidinger, Andrea. “Inconvenient Pasts: The Charlottetown Conference of 1864.” Unwritten Histories, January 24, 2017. “In reading through these discussions myself, I was often struck by the disparity between the official histories, like, for instance, the #Canada150 campaign, and academic interpretations of the past. The former was so relentlessly positive, and the latter so critical, that it almost seemed as if they were talking about two entirely different events.”

Eidinger, Andrea. “Why Does Canada150 Give Canadian Historians a Headache?” Unwritten Histories, March 14, 2017. “I can tell you that no, most historians aren’t killjoys, nor do we hate Canada. But there are very important reasons why Canada150 is a very problematic campaign.”

Martinborough, Alex. “Cutting Through the Fog: Public Memory and Confederation.” Acadiensis, January 30, 2017. “Though coming to an agreement on a system that brought four, and eventually ten, provinces together was a significant accomplishment, neither the British North America Act nor its authors should be celebrated without reservation. Canada150 presents historians, and the broader Canadian public, a unique opportunity to consider how we discuss and commemorate our past.”

Vowles, Andrew. “Perspectives on Canada 150: Do We All Have Reason to Celebrate?” Campus News, February 21, 2017. “University of Guelph professor Kim Anderson says many Canadians have reason to throw themselves a 150th birthday party in 2017— even if only to celebrate the perennial anti-fact of not being American, particularly in the new Trump era. But they also need to acknowledge ongoing injustices involving the country’s indigenous people.”

Zeller Thomas, Christa. “Birthing a Dominion.”, January 8, 2015. “Did Canada’s Confederation women give birth to the new dominion in 1867?”

Indigenous Responses to Canada150

note: in separating "Indigenous responses" from "historians' responses" I do not wish to imply that historians are never Indigenous, nor Indigenous peoples historians. However, it is notable that the historians who have publicly written about Canada150 are thus far predominantly settlers of European origin.
Baird, Daniel. “The Alternative Realism of Kent Monkman.”, February 7, 2017. “Monkman’s alter ego was inspired by the nineteenth-century American artist George Catlin, who sometimes painted himself into his portraits of Native Americans. “I wanted to create an artistic persona that could rival that of Catlin,” said Monkman. “So [Miss Chief] was created to reverse the gaze. She looks back at the European settlers.” Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, for Monkman, is a symbol of resilience.”

Coyle, Jim. “150th Anniversary Lays Bare Anger of Indigenous Canadians Not Invited to First Party | Toronto Star.”, April 1, 2017. “Confederation was less about beginnings for First Nations than it was their intended death knell. There may not be much to celebrate, but at least a conversation has begun.”

Dacosta, Jamaias. “The Audacity of Canada 150; a Lie Designed To Erase Our Legacy of Genocide.” Torontoist, April 25, 2017. “Indigenous people are tired of explaining why Canada's history is nothing to celebrate.”

Elliott, Alicia. “#Resistance150: Christi Belcourt on Indigenous History, Resilience and Resurgence | CBC Canada 2017,” February 22, 2017. “I don't want to label Indigenous resistance as being "#Resistance150" but I'm excited to see what people do this year.” [make sure to watch the videos embedded in this post!]

Huron, Deborah. “Will Reconciliation’s Shit-Disturbing Sister Crash the Canada 150 Party?” Ricochet. Accessed April 10, 2017. “The official celebrations won’t be able to hide the country's contradictions.”

Gehl, Lynn. “Celebrating Canada’s 150th: Featuring the Desecration of an Indigenous Sacred Place.” MUSKRAT Magazine, March 16, 2017. Which land uses do we celebrate as we celebrate Canada150?
Lee, Erica Violet, and Hayden King. “The Wigwam Conspiracy: Why Are Canada 150’s Indigenous People Stuck in Time?,” March 30, 2017. “In the midst of a party celebrating Canadian civilization, Indigenous peoples appear as static stereotypes.

McMahon, Ryan. “Here’s What Indigenous Nationhood Could Look Like in Canada—in the Year 2167.” Vice, March 9, 2017. Comedian and filmmaker on his visions for an Indigenous future.
MacDonald, Nancy. “How Indigenous People Are Rebranding Canada 150.”, March 13, 2017. “The Canada 150 birthday celebrations could stand to be more inclusive of the Aboriginal experience. Vancouver is trying to make that happen.”

Mahoney, Katherine. “The Roadblock to Reconciliation: Canada’s Origin Story Is False.” The Globe and Mail, May 10, 2016. “Recognition that indigenous peoples were founders of the nation must be acknowledged in a formal, legal way. Only then will there be a solid foundation for Canada to reconcile its past and lay the foundation for a new relationship with its first peoples.”

Moran, Ry. “Reconciling Canada’s 150th: Why 2017 Should Start with Tears: Opinion | CBC Canada 2017,” December 20, 2016. "How will this celebration of Canada's history reconcile with the history experienced by Indigenous peoples in this coming year? Will this be a turning point in our national journey towards reconciliation or will this be a celebration of the status quo?"

Obomsawin, Alanis. “For 150 Years, People Have Been Told Lies about Canada’s History.” TIFF, March 27, 2017. “For 150 years, people have been told lies about the history of this country. Lies about the people, about the land.”

Ostroff, Joshua. “‘Colonization Road’ Is A Film. It’s Also An Actual Road Because Canada.” The Huffington Post, October 23, 2016. “At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I'm offended that people want to throw Canada a birthday party," says Anishinaabe/Métis comedian and activist Ryan McMahon. "I want to go to the birthday party and spill red wine all over the white carpet.”

Ostroff, Joshua. “Buffy Sainte-Marie On Why Canada Needs To Decolonize.” The Huffington Post. Accessed April 10, 2017. “Decolonizing doesn't hurt anybody. It's exactly what everybody needs to do...My motto is stay calm and decolonize.”

Palmater, Pamela. “Canada 150 Is a Celebration of Indigenous Genocide.” NOW Magazine, March 29, 2017. “Perhaps Canada should cancel its celebrations and undertake the hard work necessary to make amends.”

Sayers, Judith. “What I Choose to Celebrate on This Day Called ‘Canada Day.’” CBC News, July 1, 2016. “Mostly, I celebrate the fighting spirit that lies within First Nations peoples across Canada. The spirit that never lets us stop restoring what was once ours, for rebuilding our nations and way of life… On this day that is called "Canada Day," I am refusing to be negative and repeat the same message I have been giving for too long  because it hasn't worked.”

Sumanac-Johnson, Deana. “Telling Their Stories or Opting out: Indigenous Artists on Canada 150.” The National - CBC Television; Toronto, February 7, 2017. “As Canada 150 celebrations extol the glory of Canada's past and present, one group of artists is not so quick to join the party. Indigenous artists view the sesquicentennial with mixed feelings, with some using it as a platform to tell their peoples' side of the story, and others opting to boycott the celebrations altogether.”

“Resistance vs Resiliency: UNB Elder to Serve as Canada 150 Ambassador.” CBC News, April 5, 2017. “Many First Nations people are boycotting Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation celebrations this year, but Imelda Perley, an elder in residence at the University of New Brunswick, has agreed to take on the role of ambassador for Canada 150.”

Satire and Comedy

Duarte Speil, Jacob. “75% of Canada 150 Budget Spent on Hiding Worst Parts of National History.” The Beaverton, April 23, 2017.

Petrie, Ned. “Original Fathers of Confederation Announce Canada 150 Reunion Tour | CBC Comedy,” April 20, 2017.

Skye, Courtney. “First Nations Decline Invite to Canada 150 Event, Cite Onerous Task of Washing Hair during Boil Water Advisory | CBC Comedy,” January 5, 2017.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


This morning, while listening to the radio, my mother called me to ask, "Leah, what's 'clickbait'?" So I explained that it's a headline to tease someone into clicking a link, only to find that there's nothing particularly interesting on the webpage.

This afternoon in the Archives of Ontario, looking at microfilmed education files, I'm finding the clickbait of the early twentieth century. I could write a satirical conference paper pretending to draw out matters of substance from the most hideously dull, yet enticingly-titled, letters that I’ve found. We've all seen them: the files that are merely cover letters for other documents, acknowledgements of having received a package, and so forth, that somehow get their own individual file and a title for what the file would have been, if only it included the actual document, the actual package. The file that cruelly masquerades as a matter of substance and entices us to look inside (or scroll for ten minutes through a poorly labeled microfilm reel) only to find... “I beg sir to acknowledge the receipt of your favour of the fourth instant regarding [super exciting issue!] and will give it due consideration.” and...nothing more.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Truth and Reconciliation, Canadian Mass Media, and Arguments about Genocide

Since arriving home from the Congress for the Social Sciences and Humanities this Friday, I've been trying (perhaps in vain) to catch up with the extensive media coverage of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission closing activities. This weekend, the coverage ramped up a bit, with weekend papers giving opinion pieces, including some strong articles in the Globe and Mail and a variety of less astute writing elsewhere. I planned on writing a field guide of sorts, noting who was saying what about the TRC. Then I realized that the extent of the coverage meant that I could either give a review, or merely a series of links; I chose the former. Perhaps in future days I will read and write more. I hope to read beyond the mainstream media as well, because Indigenous blogs are of course a critical source for learning more about the TRC and its implications.

I'll start with the lowest-hanging fruit: Conrad Black, of all people, argued in the National Post that Canada's treatment of Aboriginal people, though shameful, wasn't genocide. Black starts with an assertion that I would agree with - that all countries founded on immigration could be accused of cultural genocide, of either the indigenous peoples or the arrivals. Yes, indeed we can; but just because we've all been committing cultural genocide, to various degrees, doesn't make it any better. Black continues with the sorts of apologist arguments that frankly don't deserve to be quoted, alleging a primitive population that was unfortunately assimilated through violence that, in Black's opinion, does not constitute genocide. He argues this by John A. Macdonald's policies to those of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, who certainly terrorized people in different ways. If you click the link (which I don't endorse, if that's not already clear!), save yourself from the horrific comments.

At the moment that I'm writing this, the Sunday night panel on CBC's The National are debating whether or not this was a genocide. Jonathan Kay, from The Walrus and John Moore, host of Newstalk 1010 (both white men) are the regular panelists; tonight, they were joined by Dawn Lavell-Harvard from the Native Women's Association of Canada for a discussion of stereotypes about Aboriginal people. Kay made an argument that was relatively similar to that of Conrad Black, that because residential schools ≠ Hitler that they were not genocide. Lavell-Harvard unsurprisingly disagreed. Wendy Mesley, hosting, said to her arguing commentators that it wouldn't be possible for their panel to resolve whether residential schools were genocide. I generally respect Mesley, but resent her simply saying that the panel could not resolve the issue; indeed, it's not their role, after years of extensive research by the TRC. The TRC's publication What We have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation (PDF) notes in its second paragraph that residential schools were a component of a policy of cultural genocide. The report goes on to distinguish physical, cultural, and reproductive genocide, instantly refuting the arguments of those who dismiss statements of genocide by contrasting residential schools with Nazi concentration camps. When the TRC has taken this much time to consult survivors, to comb through documents - who are these journalists, who are Canadians at large, to persist in debating whether or not this is a genocide? Is it not time to put this argument to rest?

Doug Saunders, international affairs columnist for the Globe, notes the challenges of applying the term "genocide" to something that happened in Canada: the term "cultural genocide" itself was previously merely "an activist slogan and academic obscurity" (for the record, I'm inclined to disagree with that assertion - but since I move in academic circles, I'm not the person to make that argument); it's a label we link to the Holocaust in Germany; unlike other acts of cultural genocide, this affected a smaller percentage of the population. But he makes several comparisons to international events that should help Canadians to understand that, yes, it happened here just like it did elsewhere, in particular showing parallels between the Ukrainian Holodomor and Canadian policy. I've read several other articles today that I'd recommend, but regarding ideas about genocide, the Saunders piece is a pre-requisite for anyone who needs to be persuaded (or who is trying to persuade others) that yes, the TRC's accusations of genocide is more than reasonable in an international context.

The TRC and CHA - some thoughts on an opportunity lost

This year's Canadian Historical Association (CHA) annual meeting ran from May 31st to June 3rd; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) closing activities spanned the same dates. Though both events were located in Ottawa, I am struck by how little interchange there was between the two. Where we could have had an event that was cohesive and powerful, instead the week felt fragmented and disengaged.

In panels about Aboriginal issues, presenters or audience members referred to the report and media coverage but, troublingly, none of the CHA sessions were specifically in dialogue with the TRC activities. While the TRC offered a livestream for those unable to attend in person, the University of Ottawa wifi was unable to cope with the influx of Congress attendees, much less with people streaming an hour or so of proceedings. There was no space available for people to watch a stream with a wired internet connection, in a group, with space for dialogue; no group transportation between the two events.

I think, also, of the Canadian Society for Studies in Education (CSSE). Their keynote brought in Bolivia's Vice Minister of Decolonization, Félix Cárdenas Aguilar, to speak on decolonizing education. However, only a handful of papers (which I did not attend, not being registered for the CSSE) considered the history of indigenous education, passing up a valuable opportunity for sessions that engaged with the TRC. From my cursory reading of the CSSE programme, I saw a number of papers on Indigenous pedagogies and decolonization, and on the challenges of northern reserve education, to give a couple of examples. But so much appears to be missing: where was the panel on the Truth and Reconciliation commission? If the CHA is large, the CSSE is gargantuan - getting lost in a list of sessions is hard to avoid. In contrast to the CHA, which noted that particular sessions on Aboriginal history were part of a sponsored mini-conference, papers on Indigenous education in the CSSE proceedings were scattered about, so that there was no coherent way to find them and attend them.

The Congress as a whole offered two events that dovetailed with the TRC proceedings: May 30th saw Murray Sinclair in a standing-room-only Big Thinking lecture, entitled "What do we do about the legacy of Indian residential schools?" followed by a youth panel discussion on Reconciliation and the Academy. This featured an impressive pair of pre-teen presenters, both youth leaders in Ottawa, alongside more well-known speakers such as Cindy Blackstock, Tracy Coates, Imam Zijad Delic, and moderator Waubgeshig Rice. Both of these were well-attended and informative. But in the Congress programme, these were the only two sessions I saw on reconciliation. There were likely a few here and there in the programmes for various associations - but how to find them? We have such an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue at Congress, and for engaging with major debates, issues, etc. - so while I had a great time at the conference this year, and thoroughly enjoyed (though exhausted) myself, I left with a nagging sense of disappointment.

CSSE sessions on indigenous people, history, and education:
(this list is partially for my own notes, so that I remember to contact these scholars - or for whoever actually reads my blog who wants this info for their own purposes. Note that it's likely that I've missed a few entries that would be of interest for me, and that I haven't listed panels that aren't about history or reconciliation)

Julie Vaudrin-Charette (Ottawa); Getting Credit for White Settler Colonialism: A Historiography of Indigenous Education Policy in Canada

A Textual Analysis of Post-Secondary Funding in Indian Affairs Annual Reports: 1947 - 1990. Josephine Steeves (Saskatchewan)

Witnessing residential school testimonial texts as self study in the preparation of future teachers: Disrupting colonial futurist logics in education. Lisa Taylor (Bishop's) 

Working in Tandem: Federal-Provincial Collaboration in Indigenous Education, 1901-1951
Helen Raptis (Victoria) 

Using re-storying as a pedagogical tool to examine the Indian residential school experience with young non-Indigenous students: an exploration into notions of identity and societal responsibility. Daniela Bascunan (Toronto) (roundtable)

Addressing Truth and Reconciliation: Curriculum, Non-Aboriginal Teachers, and Public Education
Nicholas Ng-A-Fook (Ottawa), Jesse Butler (Ottawa), Ferne McFadden (Ottawa), Julie Vaudrin-Charette (Ottawa) (symposium) 
Engaging difficult conversations with Indigenous and non-Indigenous preservice teachers: Taking up historical responsibilities through Story and Literature. Lisa Taylor (Bishop's), Curran Jacobs (Bishop's) 

The complexities of youth civic engagement in decolonizing territories and post-colonial nations: The challenges for Tikkun--Pedagogies of repair and reconciliation. Yvette Daniel (Windsor), Lisa Korteweg (Lakehead), Heather Koller (Lakehead), Frances Cachon (Windsor), Erwin Selimos (Windsor), Ereblir Kadriu (University of Pristhina), Janet Tower (Grand Rapids Community College), Nombuso Dlamini (York), Cynthia Kwakyewah (York) 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Adventures in Archives...And Emergency Rooms

Ottawa hates me. This is, right now, all that I can conclude.

I'm finally back in the archives. Yes, back. For the past two weeks, I've been too sick to eat more than the occasional morsel, or even drink much for some of that time. Lots of pain. Several trips to the hospital. I'll spare the details. For two weeks, the time I've spent in the archives has been minimal, which is supremely disappointing! It's a saga that's distinctly not fun, and I'm still not feeling quite up to standard, but I'm going to get back to work as best I can. I suppose this goes to show the old adage about best laid plans. Fortunately, I do have the opportunity to come back to Ottawa in the summer, and can finish up some of these boxes then.

One heartening thing I have found, however, is that the archives are not as soulless as one might imagine. The security guards whom I'd chatted with on breaks asked me if I was alright and how I was doing, welcoming me back. The archivists and privacy analysts are being understanding of my adjusted time frame. So it's not all bad - just disappointing.

Next step, two conferences and a few more days in the archives.