Margaret Trudeau – Changing My Mind

Navigating through early adulthood is hard enough without having your every move scrutinized by the press. Now, imagine being one of the most famous people in Canada by the age of 22, while silently struggling with a mental illness that has complete control over your emotions. This is how Margaret Trudeau lived for 30 years of her life. As the wife of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the mother of our current prime minister Justin Trudeau, Margaret has been in the limelight for the past 50 years. She first opened up about her battle with bipolar disorder in 2006, an illness that affects her emotions and her rational thinking. Margret Trudeau’s memoir Changing My Mind sheds light on this illness, and it allows readers to get a glimpse into the life of one of Canada’s most influential women. Margaret’s experiences illustrated in her memoir show how Canada is a nation built upon compassion and self-actualization, one where we can learn from our mistakes without the fear of permanently damaging our reputation.

From dancing and singing on tabletops at formal events, to leaving mid-interview on live television, every decision Margaret had made was filtered through an ill mind. Margaret states in her memoir that often, “the Canadian public opened their newspapers to a feast of scandalous stories about the disgraceful antics of Pierre Trudeau’s mad, exhibitionist wife.” She was terrified of losing her family and tarnishing her reputation. But she was also terrified of the unknown illness that was compelling her to make decisions on a whim. Bipolar disorder is life consuming, but Margaret lived though the damage it did to her, and she emerged victorious from the battle. She was diagnosed in early 2006, and she made the parlous decision to inform the public just a couple months later. Luckily, she was met mostly with praises and support from her fellow Canadians, which goes to show that we as a nation value compassion.

Margaret Trudeau’s most significant contribution to Canadian identity is her openness about her struggle with mental illness. Bipolar disorder was not classified as it’s own mental illness until 1980, and even after that it was not widely talked about until closer to the 2000’s. Despite the fact that the illness was relatively unknown, once Margaret was able to explain that her decisions were not made while she was in a lucid mind, her past behaviour was excused. She worked hard to earn back the trust of the people of Canada. The fact that she was able to apologize for her actions shows how resilient she is, and the fact that Canada as a nation accepted her apology shows how open minded we are, and how we value honesty and respect.

After reading this memoir, I was amazed at how Margaret was able to overcome her struggles with bipolar disorder, and how despite facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she continued to fight. Now that she is receiving treatment for her illness and is able to think clearly, she has been a consistent supporter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is striving to educate others about mental illness in the hopes that no one else has to suffer in silence the way she did. She is an extremely inspiring Canadian who we should all look up to for the reasons I’ve highlighted today, along with many more that are illustrated in her memoir. Margaret Trudeau exemplifies Canada’s core values and beliefs such as self-actualization and honesty, and I believe her legacy will be one of resilience and strength. She worked hard to change her mindset, which led her to help change the way in which Canada perceives mental health today. What do you want to change?

Independent Novel Study Speech

Gordie Howe

Speech – Jackson Cyr


Over Gordie Howe’s unprecedented five decade-long NHL career, radio broadcasters announced him scoring 801 times, yet there was a time in Howe’s life where he couldn’t even afford skates, let alone pay the cost of playing on a hockey team. There is no doubt that Gordie Howe is a Canadian Icon, but what can his life show us about what it means to be Canadian? His life, as summarized in Mr. Hockey: the Autobiography of Gordie Howe can show us that being Canadian means so much more than being good at hockey, a common Canadian stereotype.


In 1928 Howe was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and was the fifth of nine children of Albert and Katherine Howe. As a young adolescent in the depression, Howe was far from well off. Growing up he faced plenty of adversity. He had to gather water for his family daily because they didn’t have running water, struggled with dyslexia, and had to hunt to help provide for his family. He had to hunt for an entire summer to pay for his first pair of oversized, second hand skates. These struggles showcase Howe’s perseverance and compassion for others: important aspects of Canadian identity.


This notable athlete  expressed the basis of what  it means to be a Canadian on a truly international scale. As one of hockey’s first superstars, his every movement was tracked by both Canadians and Americans on television,  the radio, and in the news; all the while serving as inspiration for Europeans when they started playing in the NHL. Playing most of his career in Detroit, Howe brought Canadian culture to America. Although regarded as a fierce monster on the ice, Howe was a complete gentleman off of it. When he signed for The Detroit Red Wings, his only condition was that he received a team jacket, showcasing his incredible humility. Up until the 1960s, Howe didn’t even negotiate his salary. He just went along with whatever Detroit felt like paying him, as he felt the money could be better used elsewhere. Even after he started standing up for his player rights as one of the team’s most remarkable MVPs, Howe still kept his salary modest, because greed was not in his nature. He always tried to help others out, just as Canadians do so often in our daily lives.


After completing his career, Howe used his money and fame to help youth experience the sport he loved so much. Howe built an ice rink for underprivileged youth, scraping together every penny he had and asking for donations from his wealthier friends. He spent his life continuing to raise awareness for the youth he had worked with and promoting active living. Moreover, Howe advocated for alzheimer’s research later in life, establishing the Gordie Howe CARES Foundation as he himself suffered from the disease. Howe exemplifies Canada’s value of giving back to those around us.

In conclusion, reading Mr. Hockey will not only give you a glimpse into a different era of Canada, but it will also show you how the core qualities that Canadians value have remained the same throughout the years. Humility, perseverance, compassion, and a willingness to help others remain as  core Canadian qualities, and Howe is a shining example of all these values. Reading this book will give the reader a deeper insight into what it means to be a Canadian, and will also help you truly understand Canadian values, all through the eyes of a truly inspiring, and quintessentially Canadian hero.


Canadian Novel Study Speech

Imagine being looked down upon, shunned, ignored, and disrespected just plainly for existing. Imagine living under the same skies as anyone else, breathing the same air yet being pushed away because of the way you were born. Racism, prejudice, and injustice. We’ve been battling it for decades now. Viola Desmond was one of the leading advocates for black rights in Canada as I learned by reading Viola Desmond: Her Life and Times.


Viola Irene Desmond, born 1914 in Halifax, was always proud and strong about her own identity. By attending school and doing her best helped her get an education. Viola was always a bright student, often being mistaken for copying the answer key in exams when they were 100% her own. By staying involved in the Halifax black communities such as the church, Viola built herself a respectful reputation and worked towards a career and business as a beautician.


By the mid-1940s Viola had established a very successful beauty culture business serving black women in Halifax. Viola expanded her business by setting up Desmond school of beauty culture in order to train black women as beauticians. her first classified students graduated in 1945. by this time she also had her own line of beauty products and was receiving orders from across the province. in order to serve her customers, she bought a car, a 1940 Dodge sedan. at that time it was almost unimaginable for black women or any women for that matter, to obtain a drivers license, buy a car and take business trips alone.


Viola wasn’t only successful, she had a valourous personality as well. Her sister, Wanda was abandoned by her husband without financial support. Wanda’s family was starving with the water and electricity cut off. When Wanda sought help from the city, she was told to help herself. After Viola found out, she entered the city hall and, after excusing herself for the interruption, she spoke to the mayor and described the situation on behalf of her sister. She told him it was a life and death situation. The mayor thanked her for her concern but indicated nothing could be done until the following Monday. Viola replied, “that’s fine, but you should know, children, die on Saturdays too.”


But the key event that inspired the black community and Canada as a whole to fight against racism was the Roseland Theatre incident. Viola, like any other person, just simply walked into the theatre to watch a movie.


“Miss, you can’t sit here because your ticket is for the upstairs.” The usher said.

Viola asked to pay more and exchange her ticket, but the reply that came was that they were “not allowed to sell downstairs tickets to you people.” Viola fully realized that she was confronting the practice of racial segregation and she refused to give up her seat. But in later hours, the police came, forcefully dragged and threw her out of the Theatre. She was thrown in jail overnight, enduring obscene calls from other observers for being a black woman. Put in court the next day, the judge indicated there was a 10 cent difference in the price of the upper level and lower level tickets and a one cent difference in the amusement tax. She was charged with a violation of the provincial tax law, as she “didn’t pay the one cent” when really her money was refused. This story spread quickly, inspiring the homogeneity within all of the minority groups of Halifax – a fire in their hearts to work towards a world without prejudice.


By reading Viola Desmond: Her Life and Times, you will gain the knowledge of how one can succeed greatly with determination and grit despite the numerous disadvantages they may be born with. It shows the story of a young woman’s brave yet peaceful fight, who advocated for her own and the rights of not only black people but the minority groups of Canada. From trying hard in school to standing up for your own beliefs, being an advocate for yourself and the people in your life, it all makes a difference.


Viola believed that the hearts of minority voices were “Royal Souls who always advocates for the solutions that uphold the dignity and value of all.”. Who’s to say, we can’t be our own hero?


Let our new $10 bill be a gentle reminder for all – Being a Candian means standing up for yourself.

Tecumseh: Shooting star, crouching panther

“Tecumseh and his family watched the party disappear in the distance. He ached for the day that he would join them on the trail to war. He could not know, however, that his own path to war would be part of a desperate struggle to save his people. Neither did he know that he would never see his father again” (Poling Sr, 24). The book Shooting star, crouching panther is a biography written by Jim Poling Sr, narrating the highs and lows of Tecumseh, a warrior, a chief, and a leader of a multi-tribal confederacy. Despite his violent, unrewarding background, Tecumseh’s courageous leadership within the fight for equality reveals a large part of Canadian identity, valuing respect and persistence above all else.

Born into the Shawnee tribe, Tecumseh grew up in a difficult situation. The Americans were buying out land, surveying and taking over their territory, battling with the Shawnee’s little population. He grew up without his parents, during a time of harsh war between his people and the Americans. However, this did not stop him. He grew up to be an inspirational leader, considered by most as the last great native leader in Canada.

Tecumseh was a man of many different qualities. He was portrayed as a savage, strong, and barbaric leader to his enemies, until one day in the early 1800s, when a man named Thomas Herrod was killed and scalped near the region where Tecumseh was born. After Herrod’s village confronted his tribe, Tecumseh stated that he would speak to this issue and calm them down, ensuring he was not involved. This scenario was different from one he’d ever been in, having to speak to not tribes, but frightened citizens afraid of people like him. After his speech, he had illustrated a new image of himself for his enemies. He was seen as an “intelligent man of compassion and peace; someone with the bearing and speaking talent to make others listen and understand” (Poling Sr, 61). Tecumseh was able to change their perspectives on him with such ease, gaining respect and admiration from the unlikeliest of peoples. Although Tecumseh was often faced with violent disputes between white men, he continued to advocate against “needless cruelty,” fighting only when necessary.

In July of 1812, American general William Hull was in control of Detroit, 1600 men on his side. On August 13, Isaac Brock, a British officer, arrived at Fort Amherstburg with 300 men in order to aid Tecumseh in taking control of Fort Detroit. An instant bond formed, both respecting one another as great leaders and warriors. Together, they stormed Detroit, only to find a white flag appear over the walls of the fort. The victory restored the whole Michigan territory to British control, and Hull was not only put to court, but put to shame, convincing himself that he had saved his men and the 700 civilians from “the horrors of an Indian massacre.” Despite being greatly outnumbered, Tecumseh along with his allies fought for control of their territory, failing to hesitate during the moments that mattered most. Their bold fighting spirit shaped Canada’s values today, not only fighting for what is rightfully theirs, but never backing down even when outnumbered.

Upon completing Jim Poling Sr’s Shooting star, crouching panther, one comes to realize a few things about what Canadian identity is today. Although Tecumseh’s death marked the end of First Nations resistance to American expansion, his legacy lives on, both as a skilled warrior and intelligent leader. He showed that being Canadian is not only about fighting for what is rightfully yours, but as well as respecting what isn’t. As Tecumseh once said, “Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.”




James Douglas: Father of British Columbia

How does one journey thousands of kilometres across the wilderness numerous times, with only the power of their own arms and legs? How does one cope without hot water, shampoo, or bug spray in the mosquito-infested summers, where you are bitten until you bleed? In Julie Ferguson’s James Douglas: Father of British Columbia we learn the story of James Douglas, and how he was able to persevere through numerous challenges to rise up and become the successful man he is known as today. By looking at the life and experiences of James Douglas, it is revealed that to be a Canadian means to dedicate yourself to your work and to never give up in the face of difficulty.


    James Douglas was born in Guyana, 1803, and raised there alongside his brother by his kind and caring mother. Young Douglas, at the tender age of 9, journeyed across the vast ocean with his father to attend school and receive a fruitful education. Little did he know that would be the last time Douglas ever saw his mother. For the rest of James’ life, he was hard at work learning the business of the fur trade and climbing his way up positions and rankings as his peers noted his attentiveness to detail. As a part of the fur trade, Douglas went on numerous bone-numbing voyages across the country supplying furs from fort to fort.


However, Douglas wasn’t always successful. He had a fiery temper, and on one occasion he went straight up to a First Nations camp where a suspected murderer was hiding, and shot him dead on the spot to serve justice. Furthermore Douglas made some unwise decisions favouring his relatives and giving them higher-pay jobs. Ever since the start, Douglas wanted to start a successful family and make his father proud of him. He feared the loss of his close family members, and his friends: other fur traders he worked with for years. Douglas struggled with being mixed race for most of his life, his classmates would always tease him for not being ‘pure’. Because of this, Douglas kept his past hidden from most people, and kept to himself.


James Douglas teaches us to never give up, no matter how bad the scenario looks. When NWC and HBC merged together, Douglas “and other Nor’westers rightly feared HBC’s larger and more complex bureaucracy – they believed their pay would drop and their jobs would be lost too” (53). Since HBC was so much larger, the NWC employees were at risk of losing their jobs. Although he was a little worried, Douglas wasn’t discouraged at all and continued to work hard. He pushed his fear aside and worked with even more vigor, which payed off as the governor general noticed his hardworking efforts. Additionally, later on when he worked at a higher rank Douglas was required to make sudden trips without warning, leaving his family to go scout potential land for HBC. In doing so, he missed the births of a few of his children, and also, unfortunately, the deaths.


Through reading James Douglas: Father of British Columbia, we see the struggles faced by our province’s founding father, and the difference between life now and then. After witnessing the challenges James Douglas faced, take his advice and focus on the bright side; never give up in the face of difficulty.


David Suzuki: The Autobiography – Final Speech

The Canada of today is bright, peaceful, and stands as an example in a world of conflict. Canada “boasts of its high ideals of democracy and all the rights that are guaranteed by its Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but many have been hard won” (14). The Canada we boast of today has formed only because numerous people have suffered and struggled, approaching Canada with open arms despite constant belittlement, dead set on making this country and the world better. David Suzuki is one of those individuals. In David Suzuki’s The Autobiography, he humorously, yet effectively, shares his story and drives home the core values that all Canadians share. As an environmentalist, a scientist, and Japanese Canadian, David Suzuki’s tale reminds us that to be Canadian means to be forgiving, progressive, and helpful no matter the circumstance.

David Suzuki’s story begins in Vancouver, 1936. As a child, he grew up happy, with a caring family who shielded him from the turmoils and conflicts of the world. It was when he was 5, that he saw the world in all its cruel glory. 1941. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. David Suzuki, a child, wasn’t related to it. Yet, when 1942 arrived, the War Measures Act was implemented by the Canadian government, “revok[ing] all rights of citizenship for Canadians of Japanese descent” (15). For three years, until 1945, David Suzuki lived among other Japanese Canadians in internment camps, exiled from his home. One might think he would feel more at home among other individuals also shunned from society, united by their heritage and circumstances. This wasn’t the case. As a third generation, a Sansei, young David Suzuki was rejected for his inability to speak Japanese. Considered a terrorist by the government and targeted by other Japanese Canadians, David Suzuki didn’t belong.

Despite all this discrimination, David Suzuki grew up strong in mind and intellect. An excellent straight A student, he went on to acquire a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago and became a professor in genetics at the University of British Columbia. It was during this time that he stumbled upon the opportunity to host The Nature of Things in 1960, a documentary program that continues even to this day. It was through this show that he awakened his passion for the environment. He plunged himself into the world of our environment, a world laden with corruption, unfairness, and oppression. He worked with the First Nations of Haida Gwaii to prevent unsustainable and illegal logging. He helped raise money to preserve Stein Valley. After working within Canada, he moved abroad, driven by his need to help others. David Suzuki travelled to the Amazon Forest to work with the Kaiapo peoples to save their homes from destruction. After years of working and funding numerous environmental movements, he realized he could do even more. Inviting other environmentalists, he formed the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990, a foundation working towards a greener, cleaner future.

David Suzuki was rejected by both his country and the country of his heritage. Unlike many others who would have been filled with anger and resentment, David Suzuki was able to forgive. He forgave the past and spent his life reaching out to help others, making slow, but progressive change in the world. Ranked the greatest living Canadian in 2004, David Suzuki reflects the values that we Canadians all value. Forgiveness, progressiveness, and a willingness to help. David Suzuki “understood that there is no line or border that separates us from the rest of the world. We are the Earth. We share a common present, filled with uncertainty. And we share a common future as yet untold” (275).

Independent Novel Study Speech

What is Canadian Identity? Who defines it? Who records it? Who writes it?
To many, this is the job of writers, historians, artists. And, for many years, this honor has fell to the first Canadian female to win the Nobel Literature prize, the three-time winner of Governor General’s prize for literature, a knight of the Order of the Arts and Letters. A poor farm girl from rural Ontario, a starving university student, a housewife, a mother, a divorcee, and then, a world famous author. Alice Munro.

In Writing Her Lives, by Robert Thacker, we learn about of one of the powerhouses of Canadian Fiction and short story writing. Through Munro’s stories, she proved that there was no “right way” to be a Canadian author, and she defined Canadian Literature at a crucial turning point in the publishing world. Her stories detailed small town Canadian life in a brutal, messy style, the epitome of Southern Ontario Gothic. Her stories chronicled, spoke, and defined Canadian literature, and in that, Canadian identity.

The year was 1970. Paranoia and fear ran rampant in the Canadian publishing community. Ryerson Press, a cornerstone of Canadian publishing, had just been bought by McGraw Hill, an American firm. Would this move swallow Canadian authors, remove their culture and patriotism, assimilate our nation into American ideals and values? What was needed a change, a group of authors to shepherd Canada into a new golden age of literature, where Canadian values and Canadian lives, chronicled in artfully crafted stories, would reach not just Canadian audiences, but audiences worldwide. The three Margaret’s, as they were called, filled this niche. Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, and ironically, not a Margaret, but an Alice: Alice Munro.

Alice Munro grew up poor in the Huron Valley, in a little town called Wingham. Her father was an entrepreneur, a fox farmer that had fallen on hard times, and her mother was a former teacher turned housewife. She grew up poor, and no one had any expectations for her. She won a scholarship to Western Ontario University for two years, and after the money ran out, she married James Munro, and they moved to Vancouver, far, far away from Alice’s familiar Ontario. She never had much time for writing, as she raised four young daughters. She always felt out of place, constrained by her role as a housewife and mother, an unfamiliar setting where she lived yet never felt at home.
She published sporadically, but never reached her potential. She was fighting constantly with her husband, and was never content with the life everyone wanted for, a life trapped in the constraints of domesticity and motherhood. It was time for her to break the mold. Divorce was only just beginning to be accepted, along with self-sufficient women. Taking a leap of faith, Alice was both of these: adapting to difficult conditions and circumstances, a true Canadian. She became a writer-in-residence, a professor, taking odd jobs to provide for herself and her daughters, all the while churning out stories to become a Canadian literary powerhouse. Alice Munro used her strength, determination, and skill to reach the status of a legendary author, upsetting norms and proving that a women could make it big.

See, Alice Munro was no ordinary author. Her work unexpectedly explored the human condition through characters that are quintessential to everyday life: a mother returning home after a death of a loved one, a teenaged girl after a school dance, a housewife longing for more. Alice Munro’s stories were packed full of detail, ordinary and simple people and places and events that forced a reckoning in the lives of the characters. Each story says something about broader social norms, about the people and places that inhabit everyday life, that inhabit Canada. Alice Munro defines and redefines Canadian Identity through provocative works of fiction, and while the stories are not autobiographical, they are personal, showing her unique insight into the function of society and it’s norms at a time when Canada was beginning to redefine itself.

House of Dreams: The Life of Lucy Maud Montgomery

In the peaceful, fictional plains of Avonlea, a red-headed orphan captured the hearts of readers from around the globe. Published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables is regarded as a classic Canadian children’s novel, and upon its publication, the author of the book, Lucy Maud Montgomery, would grow to become one of Canada’s greatest female authors.

Montgomery’s Canadian identity shone through Anne of Green Gables. She was “fiercely passionate about Cavendish, her childhood home base” in Prince Edward Island (pg. 24). Throughout her literary career, Montgomery captured the beautiful essence of Canada. What was only a small province, became home to a symbol of love and loyalty.


Starting at a young age, Lucy Maud Montgomery was a dreamer. Growing up in her grandparents Macneill’s house after her mother’s death, Montgomery didn’t get a lot of emotional support from the beginning. Numerous times in the loneliness of her childhood, she kept herself company with wild fantasies and imaginary friends. Montgomery searched and devoured every book in the Macneill home library, which was not a lot. In her household, fiction was frowned upon as reading material for children, but Montgomery knew she was destined to express herself through writing. She poured her heart and soul into every journal entry, relentlessly scribbling down thoughts and goals for the future. While others had loved ones willing to listen, Lucy Maud Montgomery had her journal and poems.

After finishing her local high school, Montgomery aimed for a teaching degree at various universities. She didn’t want to become a regular old housewife as what was expected during the time. Montgomery was convinced that further education at the prestigious Dalhousie University would boost her writing career. Many of Montgomery’s relatives disapproved of her ambitious dreams. They wondered what in the world Maud needed with more education?

While Montgomery displayed a cheerful and rational persona towards the public, chronic depression plagued the author’s life. As she aged, her mental state only worsened. The loss of many close friends, her unhappy engagements, and growing childhood mood swings took a toll on Montgomery. To cope with the ongoing battles in her mind, writing was her escape route from reality. Despite Montgomery’s broken mentality, she breathed life into her characters. The iconic young protagonist, Anne Shirley, is a symbol of acceptance, innocence, and imagination. She was “the dearest most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice” quoted 73-year-old Mark Twain. As Montgomery argued, “fiction is the art of transformation, […] it allows for happy reconciliations they cannot achieve in life” (pg 105).


Today, Lucy Maud Montgomery is a national treasure to Canada. She embodies the loyalty that we Canadians poses for our homes and backgrounds. Montgomery established a title for Prince Edward Island, drawing attention from all around the world to the little landmark that is historically noted to this day. The government created a national park around the Macneill house, the home where Montgomery grew up in. She was “happy that an authentic Prince Edward Island farmhouse would be preserved and the lands protected” (pg 134 ).

From a young dreamer to a world-renowned author, little did we know a legacy was born from Canada’s smallest province. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s fictional world created through the love of her Canadian identity became her house of dreams.

Wayne Gretzky Speech

He’s the NHL’s all-time scoring leader, four-time Stanley Cup champion, and he starred in a cartoon where he fought crime with Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky is also the author of 99: Stories of the Game. In his book, Gretzky shares stories of his time in the NHL, as well as the stories of other greats of the game. Gretzky’s book reveals that respect, passion, and unity are what it means to be Canadian.

Wayne Gretzky demonstrated all three of these qualities on and off the ice. As a child, it was Gretzky’s dream to play professional hockey, but he didn’t just let it remain a dream. Gretzky constantly practiced, watched, and thought about hockey. His passion for the game allowed his dream to become reality, which continues to inspire Canadians who also share a passion for the game. His success was driven by his passion for perseverance. Gretzky said “If I had three points, I wanted four. I always played full throttle.”. It’s difficult to constantly work your hardest every day if you don’t have the passion that Gretzky had.  Gretzky’s passion got him to the NHL, but his respect for his opponents and the game is what kept him there. With Gretzky being so good, the only way the opposition knew how to defend him was to give him cheap shots and body checks in an attempt to injure or slow him down. To any normal player, this would get frustrating and throw them off their game. But not Gretzky. Gretzky respected the physical tactics used by the other teams and took it as a challenge to improve himself. It’s difficult to be constantly knocked down by guys double your size and keep getting back up. And not only to get back up, but to still respect the guy who knocked you down. This is what separated him from other superstars. This is what made him a role model to every hockey player. But to Gretzky, it was never just about himself. Gretzky was the ultimate team player, in hockey and in life. You don’t get the most assists in NHL history by only caring about yourself. Gretzky showed he cared for his mentor, Gordie Howe, when he called him the greatest even though all the numbers show that Gretzky was the better player. Gretzky also cared deeply about his family. When deciding on a team to sign with, Gretzky made sure to include his family on every decision. The hockey team was just as important as the school system for Gretzky and his family. He valued unity over individuality.

These qualities that Gretzky demonstrated are all part of Canada’s identity. Canadians are viewed as respectful and kind, it’s one of our most popular stereotypes. We’re seen as being passionate about things such as social justice and sports. Canadians are also seen as being unified under the Canadian flag and the values it symbolizes, the same for which cannot be said about many other countries. One of the main reasons why Canada is seen as having these qualities is because Wayne Gretzky, one of the most famous and influential Canadians ever, demonstrated all three of them. Through 99: Stories of the Game, Wayne Gretzky shows how he influenced the positive Canadian Identity. A positive identity that not many countries are lucky enough to have.

Emily Carr- a symbol of Canadian identity.

“Perfectly ordered disorder designed with a helter-skelter magnificence.”

That is how Emily Carr lived her life. From her first clear memory to her last moments she embraced her life to the fullest and lived regardless of the social norms of the time. She exemplified what it means to be a Canadian in today’s terms in stark contrast with what was expected of her in the Early 20th century. Her Autobiography Growing Pains describes her life in the vivid detail only found in the mind of a true artist, and every page of her story exudes a strong sense of self and a passion for who she wanted to be.

Born in Victoria in 1871, Emily Carr grew up in an orthodox, traditionally British household alongside 8 siblings. Her early life consisted of being overlooked and then scolded when she was noticed. After the death of both of her parents, Carr fell into an even stricter regime run by her eldest sister. However, after this Carr became even more insistent on following her passion by attending the San Francisco Art institute.  Emily Carr’s strength of willpower and ability to stay resilient when not in a position of power displays the Canadian trait of hard work, which has always been part of the collective Canadian culture.


After the San Francisco Art institute, Emily Carr spent decades travelling to learn more about her craft. Studying at both the Westminster School of Art in England and the Académie Colarossi in France. Yet no matter where she went in her journey, Carr was made to feel ashamed of who she was.

For being a woman

For refusing to marry.

For choosing to be an artist.

And surprisingly often, for being Canadian.

However, Carr never let this stand in her way. Growing Pains tells of many instances where Carr stood up to those who put her down and dismissed their criticisms, allowing them to enter the narrative of her life without changing it’s trajectory. Such as a time where a mentor in London told her that being there would solve the “issue” of her Canadian background, to which Carr said simply “I am Canadian, I am not English, I do not want Canada polished out of me.” Her entire life was spent celebrating where she came from because she was proud.


Emily Carr is most known today for her writing and her works of art depicting Haida Gwaii and Canada’s Pacific Northwest region. By reading her autobiography, you are able to watch her come to the idea of painting the beauty and culture that she experienced there. Despite that she would be the first to do so. Growing Pains follows Carr through countless journeys surrounding the indigenous peoples of the region, and the thought process that led to her finding her true passion. Her love for Canada’s wilderness is represented in her artwork which would later become some of the best known across Canada.


Emily Carr’s Growing Pains tells the story of the life of a unique and brilliant woman who’s art changed how people viewed the culture of western Canada, but above all that, it is the inspirational memoir of someone who faced every opposition that was placed in her way with new hope and positivity, for she was determined to stay true to herself. This willingness to be proud of who you are is a defining aspect of Canadian identity which proves that Emily Carr lived by the values of today while facing those of the past.

This is why we should admire and emulate Emily Carr. Because it is always difficult to be the first brushstroke on a blank canvas, but sometimes, that becomes a masterpiece.