MS St. Louis / Canada’s Perspective on the Holocaust

The MS St. Louis was a boat of over 900 Jewish refugees, departing Germany in 1939, just before the beginning of World War 2. The Jewish refugees were being heavily discriminated against in Nazi Germany, and were trying to enter Cuba. Cuba was their first stop because many passengers had landing visas, and many had their paperwork done for the United Stated- their second stop. The MS St. Louis was not allowed to unload in Cuba. 28 wealthier passengers purchased new papers, one was hospitalized, and the rest were sent back to sea. The refugees were refused entry to the United States and headed for Europe. When the boat neared Canadian shores, 41 influential intellectuals filed a petition to allow the refugees into Canada. However, the PM (William Lyon Mackenzie King) didn’t want to deal with the backlash and left the decision to the current immigration minister- Frederick Blair. Blair argued that if they allowed the refugees into Canada, they would have to let every foreign boat land on Canadian docks, and every foreigner a Canadian citizenship. This argument was a disguise for increased Anti-Semitism. Blair argued that they didn’t fit under the current immigration laws- laws he created. He was concerned that if he let the 907 Jews in, Canada was set up to accept hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees. Even though the ship was only 2 days from Halifax, it set off for Europe, where the passengers disembarked. Most of these passengers were eventually sent to concentration camps, and 254 died.

Although many Canadian’s had an Anti-Semitist attitude, they looked down upon Nazi Germany’s actions. Throughout the war, Canadians had a change of heart. This isn’t saying that they were on the front lines of justice for Jewish people- as you can see in the MS St. Louis incident, a strategy that Canadians have used from the start of time is using their laws to further unjust attitudes. Because of this, many Jewish people weren’t allowed into Canada, and there still aren’t many Jews here today.

If Canada had allowed the Jewish refugees to enter Canada, many of them wouldn’t have suffered as they did, and 254 of them wouldn’t have died. If Canada was truly the welcoming, wonderful place we project, our humanity would have overpowered our laws. Canada accepted the least amount of Jewish refugees among developed nations. The United Stated accepted 200,000, Palestine 150,000, and Britain 70,000. When asked how many Jewish refugees would be admitted to Canada, a senior government official answered ‘none would be too many’.

It was impossible for Canada to know the carnage that would wreck the Jewish German community at the time- WW2 hadn’t even begun. However, it’s attitude after and during the war shows it’s true Anti-Semitic attitude. We can compare this to our attitude towards Syrian refugees. Although we do accept some of these refugees, the Muslim faith and Syrian refugees are commonly regarded as unfavourable, especially among older residents. As a developed nation with global power, it’s important that we try and place ourselves on the right side of history.

Gerald Granston (right) on the deck of the St Louis





Costuming- Final Post

We’re perfecting our final run-throughs, and I got to see the show for the first time. It was great- BUY TICKETS TO SISTER ACT! I came back with a full page of notes and a greater appreciation for Anika’s raw talent. We’re currently scrambling to put velcro in the back of habits. The backs open during some of the rougher choreography. Although today is a Wednesday, I’m staying after school to fix them for the full rehearsal tomorrow. I’ve probably spent 5 hours a week at Costuming a week, minimum. Recently, it’s been more like 8 hours a week. However much time I spend costuming really just depends on what needs to get done.

While watching the run-through was cool, it added a lot of stress to my plate. I saw a dozen flaws and alterations that needed to get done. The show is done enough that there’s nothing glaring out at us but tons of little alterations would make the show look so much nicer. I’m going to try to get as much of this done as I can, as will Jordan and Sophie, but there’s a little voice in my head telling me that the show will never look as seamless as I would like. I understand that it’s a high school production and that the budget this year is smaller than last years, but I wish I could have done more. I guess we’ll see how the show turns out!

For my indepth presentation, I’m showing a short video that introduces myself, Jordan, and Sophie, as well as some behind the scenes clips in the making of the costumes and then the costumes on stage. I might also film a quick change and some behind the scenes of the actual show. I figured having a video of the show was more interesting than a montage of sewing and cutting fabric, which was most of the year.

On the Erasure of Historical Discussion

        Canada is widely broadcasted as a nation full of intellectuals, people who are able and willing to learn and grow from our past. Despite his achievements in building the foundation of our country, and becoming a catalyst in Canada’s feminist, forward-thinking mindset, John A Macdonald is being ostracized from the national consciousness for his personal shortcomings. Macdonald’s presence in our public sphere is essential to the education of Canadian citizens on our history, and acknowledging the sacrifices made to establish and grow our country.

       Macdonald was the second highest serving Canadian Prime Minister, serving for over 18 years non consecutively. He won 6 majority governments for the Conservative Party, founded the Dominion of Canada, and built the Canadian economy through a series of policies called the National Policy. Macdonald ensured that “Canadians would become a single community” by heading the CPR (Gwyn, 194-195). This is all easily accessible information, via the internet- to the privileged, educated, and informed. By having remnants of history that don’t discriminate against those without the means to assimilate knowledge on their own, discussion among classes becomes simple.

        The opposing argument is that Macdonald’s questionable morals, such as the establishment of the historically injust Chinese Head Tax, are perpetuated by showcasing his accomplishments and name. This theory suggests that Canadians lack the critical thinking skills to decipher progressive from regressive views. Macdonald “not only helped to create Canada, but contributed immeasurably to its character”, so to ignore this achievement, erase traces of national development, and restrict conversation is to strip away our understanding of our collective national growth. (Swainson, 10). It’s important to acknowledge the roots of Canadian society to be able to innovate into the future.

        Becoming an advanced world power started with a determined drunkard. To recognize the faults in our beginnings, and stay true to who we are- an intellectual, advanced community- is far more gracious than choosing to ignore our shortcomings. Through talking about John A Macdonald’s actions, justice has come to thousands of Chinese and Indigenous families. Realizing the effects Macdonald has on our country, good and bad, has equipped us to continue developing with a full understanding of the effect that our world leaders will have on our future.


Gwyn, Richard (2007). The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times of Sir John A. Macdonald, Vol 1: 1815–1867. Toronto: Random House Canada.

Swainson, Donald (1989). Sir John A. Macdonald: The Man and the Politician. Kingston, ON: Quarry Press.

Independent Investigation

Inquiry Question: To what extent did Sara Riel impact the Red River Colony?

A: Outline the focus of your inquiry and provide background knowledge. Why is this an important question to ask about the past? Provide evidence from primary and secondary sources.

Sara Riel was the first Red River Nun, and was also Louis Riel’s sister. She brought and spread the Catholic Belief among Manitobans, becoming the first Metis missionary of Red River. She provided a sympathetic voice and support to many different conflicting nations in Red River, and also to her brother. She was so important in peaceful negotiations that, in 1869, she was moved several times by the congregation, as they feared for her safety.

Continuity and Change: How are our lives and conditions similar to those found in your research? How have they changed?

The 1800s were a vital time in Canada’s history. The foundation of Canadian culture and history was built during this time period, and while this important period of history is long over, many of the issues and negotiation and confrontation aspects of the past persist to today. Sara Riel acted as a peacekeeper throughout Red River conflicts, which is a role that Canada, and Canadians, attempt to take on both Internationally and Nationally today. However, despite her efforts to embed Catholic culture within the Canadian identity were less effective than they seemed. Today, religious freedoms, immigration, and atheism disrupt her goal of a Catholic-Canadian identity.

Is what happened right and fair by the values and standards of the time? How about from our current values and standards?

By the standards of our time, enforcing a religion within schools and communities would be frowned upon. Religious freedom is a modern concept, and not a belief that many people shared in the 1800s. While today these actions would not have been innovative, within older ideals, her efforts in the church were widely respected, and made her a pillar of community. Sara Riel’s teachings allowed her to be a positively influential person in Canada’s history. In modern times, a similar position would be a CEO of an ethical company, a respected politician, or an educator with a Ph.D.

What conclusions can you reach about your question, based on the research you conducted?

While Sara Riel was mainly behind the scenes, she played a vital role in keeping the Red River negotiations as peaceful as she could, as well as enstating Catholic beliefs in Canadian culture. Her impact was quiet, effective, and ethical. Riel was for the people. The extent to which she impacted Canada long term can never be truly known, as identified as a women created the erasure of her name from history books across the board, but as she was the first Metis missionary, close advisor of Louis Riel, and held an important role in many negotiations, it can be infered that her impact was great and long lasting.

Ross, Alexander (1856). The Red River Settlement: its rise, progress, and present state. Schmith, Elder and Company.

Jordan, Mary (1980). De ta Soeur, Sara Riel. Saint-Boniface, Manitoba: Édition des Plaines. p. 32.

Carter, Sarah; McCormack, Patricia Alice (2011). Recollecting: Lives of Aboriginal Women of the Canadian Northwest and Borderlands. Athabasca University Press. pp. 115–116

Jordan, Mary (1980). De ta soeur, Sara Riel. Saint-Boniface, Manitoba: Éditions des Plaines. p. 23. ISBN 0-920944-03-5.

Costuming- Week 11

1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

We’re doing full run-throughs for the first time. This is a completely new experience- fixing costumes on the go, helping with quick-changes, and taking notes is hectic. Ms. Learmonth gave us a bunch of last-touches costume notes, and we’re taking a bunch of our own time to get them done. The full commitment of being part of the Costume Crew is a great feeling of togetherness.

2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

This year I mainly focused on the running of the show, and working with actors. Next year I’d love to focus more on making costume patterns. Taking on more skillwise would make me more valuable to the department and increase the amount I can take on next year. To reinforce what I already know I could also think about volunteering to work as tech as local theatres, like the evergreen cultural centre. I know many Glen technicians have volunteered there, and I’m more than willing to pursue costuming outside the school realm.

3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

Next year I fully plan on being part of the Costuming department again and taking on a bit more of a leadership role. Assuming more responsibility would add pressure and increase the rate at which I learn. Being a more integral process of the actual design of costume patterns isn’t just something I want to do- it’s something I need to do. Costuming isn’t a hobby, it’s a job. You need to be committed and ready to do whatever it takes to get the show together.

4. When you get together what do you talk about?

We mainly talk about the notes Ms. Learmonth has for the costumes, and well as some techniques and design ideas she has. The more the year has gone on, the more she’s let me go and just practice what I know in a practical way. Jordan Chambers isn’t my mentor, but he has much more experience in the Gleneagle theatre than Ms. Learmonth, so I appreciate what he’s done to prepare me for the actual shows. Running me though quick-changes and giving me backstage directions aren’t things he has to do, but he does because of his commitment to the theatre. I’m going to miss him when he’s gone!

5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

Ms. Learmonth is very good at giving critiques and helpful advice on the show. As all the costuming crew are backstage helping with costumes, we can’t really see what everything looks like from the audience. Ms. Learmonth sits in the front row with a notebook and writes down what we could fix with the costumes, which is very useful to our process.

6. What are you learning about one another?

I’ve learned about her history in the theatre, and her experience as a professional theatre technician. Hearing her story’s about working lights and sound for real shows was really cool. I’ve learned to really respect her as a mentor and person, and she’s learned to respect me too. I really enjoy our relationship, and I’m excited to have her as my teacher next year.

Costuming- Week 7

Costuming Week 7!

So far, costuming has been great. Recently, we have just been preparing for the murder mystery fundraiser. The cast of sister act is performing a few acts that we had not finished the costumes for. Therefore, the rush was significant. Our initial understanding of needing 11 full nun costumes was incorrect, and we actually needed 16. This ended with Jordan, Sophie, and I staying in until 7:30 to finish the costumes. That night, we practiced endurance.

So far, the most difficult mentor challenge is finding time to learn and make mistakes in the rush of theatre production. The nature of the costuming department is that we are forced to settle for ‘just done’, as we need to get all the costumes done as soon as possible. Finding time to slow down and learn has been difficult, but the fast-paced environment makes me learn and absorb at a quicker rate.

I’m becoming a pretty essential part of the costuming department, so that’s going very well. Myself, Jordan, and Sophie have become very close through this process.

My Grade 5-6 Journal- Historical Significance

  1. Inquiry Question: What is the story of one of my childhood journals?
  2. Source: This is a primary source of my childhood. The actual book was manufactured by Indigo Canada in a Canadian Factory. The book was manufactured around 7 years ago, and was purchased in 2012.
  3. Context: This is my second childhood journal and represents my lifelong love of writing/journaling. It was a gift from a close friend named Chris Shin before he moved to Korea. This book has some of my first poetry, as well as my transition into middle school. Reading through it, you can notice my mindset change as I mature from an elementary standpoint.
  4. Description: The pink, sky-themed, and unicorn filled cover has a variety of cat/paw stickers on the front. A clasp that used to lock the pages with a key has been ripped off over time. The edges are browning and slightly dirty. There are a few water damaged pages, including the back cover. Some page edges have fold creases to indicate a homemade bookmark.
  5. Inferences about perspective: I can infer that, because this book came from Indigo, a widely known charitable company, that some of the profits went to an education-based charity. Indigo is a stationary/book company, so I can infer that the creator of Indigo was a person who enjoyed reading and writing as I do, and wanted to spread that love for pen and paper through stationery. The cat stickers on the front indicate my ownership/love of my cat.
  6. Inferences about inquiry question: By examining this source, I was able to confirm my lifelong love of writing/reading, as well as the root of my poetry infatuation through reading the song lyrics I had written in my childhood. If other people were to read my journal they would probably come to the same conclusion as I did, as is the nature of journals. However, people would not know that the book was a gift, nor that my hobby of journalling continued through my adolescence, and that I still journal today.

Additional Questions: Would people know the stories behind the journal without my explanation? Would people know how these hobbies/skills continued into my teenagehood without my elaboration?

Humanities 10- Historical Thinking

Why do events happen, and what are their impacts?

This question from Peter Seixas’ The Big Six Historical Thinking Concepts is nearly unanswerable: why do events happen, and what are their impacts?

Let’s start with why events happen. The law of conservation of energy is a law of science that states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form into another or transferred from one object to another. It takes an uncountable amount of tiny actions, gestures, and events to initiate an event historical enough to be recorded in any form. Wars and revolutions weren’t ignited with no prior buildup. Humans, by nature, strive to make an impact. 

In Socials9, we talked about the ‘STEP’ wheel, which talks about how Social, Technological, Economical, and Political events interact and impact each other.  Going back the to the law of conservation, every event provides energy to be transferred to another. For example, in modern times the technological revolution of smartphones and social networks creates a platform for radical social changes, especially in discriminatory policies. This continuous wheel of societal change spurs millions of smaller conflicts, which eventually feed the greater cause.


Costuming- Week 5


My meeting(s) with Ms. Leermonth are going very well. Theatre Production is Tuesdays and Thursdays, and so we meet at the start of every Tuesday class for 20-30 minutes, and then I go and work under her supervision/guidance. I have her phone number, which we use to communicate about Theatre Production related issues, as well as about any questions I might have.

During our sessions, we have really good communication and chemistry. Ms. Leermonth and I have great conversations about costuming, her own experiences, Sister Act, and just musicals in general. We don’t really have any relationship issues, and I’d say our only problem is that she has a whole class to take care of other than me, so getting a hold of her can be difficult. Luckily, Jordan Chambers and Sophie Webb can answer a lot of my less-complicated questions.

There weren’t any notable learning challenges, as I picked up most of the skills fairly quickly. To hold myself accountable, I take notes and ask lots of questions. I can already see how learning costuming in Theatre Production is different than learning costuming by myself, because almost immediately I was held responsible for different tasks and jobs. There isn’t a lot of room for me to mess up, which is definitely speeding up my learning process.

Three strategies that could improve the quality of my mentor interactions would be:

  • Seeing Ms. Leermonth in an environment outside of Theatre Production
    • Arranging meetings in block 2, CL times, or after school would create a less-hectic and more focused learning space, so I can talk to Ms. Leermonth about other times she is free.
  • Keep the conversation on-topic
    • Sometimes Ms. Leermonth and I get a little too off topic, so creating a list of specific questions beforehand- and writing down her answers- would improve the level of content in our conversation.
  • Participate in group discussions with Jordan, Sophie, and Ms. Leermonth
    • Jordan, Sophie, and Ms. Leermonth have costuming meetings that I’m welcome to sit in on, but I’m a little too scared to give my input, ask questions, and participate fully. It’s my goal for the next meeting to step out of my comfort zone and do so!

Overall, Theatre Production is going very well. I’m increasingly taking on my own little projects, taking initiative, and expanding my knowledge of costuming. We are currently working on the nun’s headdresses, otherwise called wimples. I helped Sophie create the wimple pattern, and next class we are to cut the fabric and possibly sew one together. Sophie and I created a sample in yellow fabric, but since then we’ve gone to the fabric store to pick up a stretchy white fabric for the actual costume. I’ve learned about different types of fabric, and how each one changes the way you sew, shape, and design your clothes. For example, a stretchy cotton blend is harder to sew but easier to fit overall for a wimple, so that’s what we bought. For the dresses, we chose a stiffer synthetic fabric as it would hold the shape of the dress better, and was simpler/faster to work with.

I’ve also started my in-depth video!

Until next time,

Charlotte A


Meyers Briggs- Juliet

The 16personalities test indicated that my perception of Juliet is an INFJ, which is an introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging person with a turbulent identity path. This personality is one of the rarest and is less than 1% of our population. I found that the description of the INFJ personality, otherwise referred to as the Advocate, is pretty accurate to Juliet. Advocates are soft-spoken, but will still stand up for what they believe in. We see this character development in Juliet towards the end of the play when she tells her father “Delay this marriage for a month, a week, Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed, In that dim monument” (3.5, 210). When she refuses her father’s wish for her marriage and stands up for herself, she shows her rarer, stronger side. Juliet is a consistently compliant daughter who values family loyalty in most instances. Especially considering the time period, her initial refusal of Paris’s marriage is a strong testament to her will and love for Romeo. The Advocate description also talks of the INFJ tendency to react in highly irrational and unhelpful ways when approached with a seemingly unavoidable/impossible situation. This can be directly related to when Juliet said she would “bid me leap, rather than marry Paris (…) to live an unstained wife to my sweet love” (4.1, 80-90). This means she would rather die than leave Romeo to marry Paris. As we all know, she meant this very literally. Taking your own life to avoid marriage to another man is very extreme, especially considering how common arranged marriages were in Juliet’s time period. As the story progresses, we see Juliet become increasingly unstable, as she allows her emotions to sway every decision and thought. Another path to see Romeo and avoid Paris would be to simply leave Verona. How nobody thought of this, I do not know.