Ted Talk

Because I really enjoy science, choosing a singular topic to research was very difficult. When inquiring about how accurately we can sequence and interpret DNA, I got the chance to incorporate chemistry, biology, and statistics into my learning. Nonetheless, this is my Ted Talk.


I would like to apologize for the low quality of the video and unclearness of my voice. I also mispronounced a bunch of terms, and accidentally got into the habit of shortening single nucleotide polymorphisms to SNB instead of SNP. As I realized this only after everything was recorded and in place, I hope that it’s not as noticeable to everyone else.

Independent Investigation 2


After the war of 1812 between the Canadians, British, and Americans didn’t result in any geographical loss or gain, it is commonly concluded that there is no real “winner” in the situation- deeming the war to be pointless with many people and resources lost. Going off of secondary sources in an unbiased manner, this is my attempt to answer the question of “which nation in the war of 1812

To analyze the situation, we can break down the statistical information of losses into categories of population, land, resources and economy, and political outlooks.



British Empire

Total people lost: 20 000  —  roughly 4% of British Canadian population (excluding Britain itself)

  • 10 000 of which were First Nations allies
  • 1 160- 1 960 of which were killed in action
  • 15 500 captured
  • ~ 3 700 wounded

The War of 1812 Casualty Database is a grim site (funded by the Government of Canada) that is very fascinating at the same time. It provides us with the names of the British casualties, though, and not quantitative information).


Total people lost: 15 000   —   roughly 0.2% of American population

  • 2 200 – 3721 of which were killed in action
  • 20 00 captured
  • ~4 500 wounded
  • 4 00 slaves freed

Non- British First Nations

Total people lost: unknown – estimated to be roughly 80%

  • The 13 Colonies’ expansion into the west of North America was gradual throughout the 18th and 19th century, and not limited to the time of the war of 1812.
  • No type of census was kept between the aboriginal tribes, either, so estimating the deaths is very difficult.



Image result for the war of 1812 map


From what we can observe from this map, the many battles that were fought between the French and the American almost cancel each other out in terms of geographical location. While all battles would leave a trace on the environment, we also need to consider the extent of the impact that they posed, how many people were involved, and how much time has passed by. Knowing that most of these places are currently in a civilized and modernized state, the effects that the several battles of 1812 had is most likely barely noticeable. Additionally, the technological advancements of the 19th century are –arguably- not enough to inflict any serious, permanent damage comparatively to what we can do now with our opportunities in terms of industrialization and nuclear weaponry.

This image only portrays the small amount of land that was most politically conflicted at the time. It is also important to note that within generally the same premises outlined on the map, there used to be a prospering First Nations population that was brought to an end because of the war. Most of these tribes were allied to the British (seeing them as the lesser of two evils and most interested in keeping treaties and trade), some 125 were with America, while others were not allied to either party. We can observe the lack of American interest in keeping good relations with the First Nations people by remembering how they were treated in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It is once again hard to tell how many were lost.


British Empire

  • 1344 merchant ships captured/lost (373 recaptured)
  • 4 frigates captured (34 frigates to start off with)


  • 1400 merchant ships captured/lost
  • 8 frigates captured (12 frigates to start off with)

The Royal Marine and Royal Navy were significantly larger than what the U.S. had in possession, but we also need to keep in mind that the British were fighting in the Napoleon wars simultaneously with 1812. The same can be applied to all British resources, from their weaponry to their highly trained army and militia.


While we are not sure how much debt the Americans caused the British, it is estimated that this conflict added about £25 million to the national debt. At the same time, the British were also balancing an economic hit form the Neapolitan wars, yet these debts were divided between a population of 8 million people (comparatively to 7.5 million in America) and in the ‘powerhouse’ country of the world. This proved to be the reason the treaty of Ghent was formed-  the taxes were so high and resources so hard to obtain. Word has also spread throughout Britain that the new states were unhappy with the war and were threatening to leave the union. Although all the new Englanders wanted was to end the war, many were glad that this blackmailing got the government to come to a peaceful consensus.

America faced debt of about $105 million, which turned out to be about the same as Britain’s debt in the value of 19th-century currency. Starting in 1812 and continuing post-war, the American economy definitely became more prosperous. Since British factory-made items were not for international trade, the industrialization in America and its trade with other countries helped bring the nation out of the severe debt it was in. This new-found money was majorly used on opening even more factories, aiding this process further. On the other hand, the prices within America were 15% higher in 1815 than 1812, which is actually a really large difference. We can observe the same –yet more intense- issue happen in early 20th century Germany.

Political Views


When the Americans initiated the War of 1812, they went into it with the ideology of manifest destiny- loving the recent outcome of the revolution and Yorktown victory. Claiming whatever land was around them (already occupied or not) seemed to be like right instead of dream or privilege. After realizing that the number of victories and losses seemed to be the same for both sides, a reason for the Americans to humble down was evident. Moreover, opposing parties had supremacy when it came to resources, training, and social ties. Although the American militia was huge, British troops could recognize the tactics that were applied in the Siege of Yorktown, making them less effective as time went on. While this did make them feel more down to earth and realistic, the penultimate battle in New Orleans brought a feeling of unity to the nation. News of the Ghent treaty were not brought to the British, so they attacked until the notification. Massive casualties were taken by the Americans, but at least this did result in victory for them. The commonly known ending to the war of 1812 was concluded with pride on the American’s part- giving them more success to associate themselves with.


The British could be viewed as the standard competitive overachiever in this situation. Balancing so many fights all at the same time and backing down quite successfully nonetheless is actually very incredible.

British Canadian

Just like the outcome with the Americans, the people living in the Canadian land also experienced a new sense of unity. A large portion of people living there prior to the war did so just because of the land availability and didn’t really know what it was like to correlate themselves to the Canadian identity. Going through such a challenge and eventually fighting back against such a powerful opponent really brought pride and emotional stability to the citizens. Additionally, the help of the British reinforced Canada’s ties to the crown and sureness in wanting to stay part of the British Empire. Knowing what had happened with the want for Revolution in the 13 colonies, the English were more careful in how they were planning on treating these fragile communities.

First Nations

Any aspect of the indigenous people’s lives after the European colonization of this continent is hard to talk about because of unbelievably devastating it was. Simply put, every aspect of their lives steadily declined in quantity and quality, with basically nothing left to negotiate or debate. The extent to which every other country agreed to unanimously degrade these people is frankly embarrassing, so we have a tendency to stop addressing the issue and focusing on something else as soon as it gets too uncomfortable.


Historical Perspective

Because this is an immensely large conflict, there were an enormous amount of significant perspectives to go along with it. A good example of a more familiar controversy that was going on whilst determining whether war should be declared or not happened in the continental congress, with the federalists highly disagreeing with while the democratic-republicans favoured the idea. The weakening of the federalists and a republican president (James Madison) helped with distinguishing the disparities in political power, thus, starting the war of 1812. This argument has been the closest one to being almost a tie in the histories of all disputes, enforcing new laws within the congress to make at least two-thirds of the politicians agree to one side before any action was going to be taken action upon. Over more, the inability to come to a clear and popular answer on this issue held back the American’s ability to do better in battle, as it has been recorded that backup troops were forced to take a different route to the battlefield just in hopes of avoiding the angry federalists up north. Just like in this situation, there were most likely the same opposing views in all 3 participating sides of the war.


Ethical Judgement

While I was curious to find out who lost this war more than another, this is impossible to ethically do in terms of weighting casualties against resources and money. Likewise, it is impossible to accurately compare the judgments of back then against the values of today. I have always found the number of lives traded for land in a war to be extremely controversial and morally incorrect, but people more concerned about the future of the colony would obviously argue with me on what is more important. Today’s digital society would most likely contradict that, because we have had more experience with being financially stable and having helpful resources available to us. In the modernized world, we do not have the issue of information taking time to get from one place to another, thus eliminating the battle of New Orleans completely. Overall, I think that everything in the war of 1812 can be viewed to be ethical and somewhat reasonable, excluding what happened to the aboriginal people, slaves, and other minority groups. We know that inflicting such terrible things on them is wrong in every possible way by today’s standards, yet it was surprisingly only slightly frowned upon in the 19th century. This leaves me to wonder from what other bizarre ways we have emerged to be the people we are today.


In conclusion, answering the question of “which nation obtained the most benefit from the outcome of the war of 1812” is something that can only be debated and statistically analyzed by the value-based opinions of today and the time itself. Personally, I believe that the Canadians came out of this war with an upper hand result mainly because of how it shifted the political perspective nation-wide; kick-starting the Canadian identity with such gusto that makes it last all the way up to our age. Arguably, they did suffer the greatest physical loss, which weighed differently by different perspectives. Being Canadian, a certain element of bias may be incorporated. Following them, the American’s result of new-found patriotism and sophisticated government, and the British’s ability to keep the Canadian property and slip away from the conflict before it got too bad for its people. Lastly, its agreeable that the aboriginal population took the greatest hit of all. Other than gaining more trust in Britain for advocating for an area dedicated solely to the Aboriginal tribes (with a failed attempt), so much culture, land, and people were lost for no reason.


Main sources:


Historica Canada – multiple articles about the war of 1812


Environmentally friendly? Not Exactly

After initially using the sheet we were given to calculate my ecological footprint, I was astonished by how large the number was even though there were some sections of my lifestyle that were relatively low. For example, I am a very picky eater- not a large fan of meat or seafood. I also mostly bus everywhere I go, and am known for hiding in my house for days at a time. Despite that, I was still very close to falling into the class average of 10 hectares (just 1.25 below). Because I was curious how I compared to other people in the world, scanned over the Wikipedia page with the ecological footprints of other countries. It’s not too surprising that some of the most industrialized countries are up at the top, but that’s not the case with some others like China and Spain. This made me wonder how such places managed to keep it so low, and whether this is realistically calculated.


In my footprint, a lot of my points came from the following actions:

  1. Using running water, taking showers, etc…
  2. Watering my garden quite often.
  3. Having –a lot of second hand- clothing, but only wearing a fraction of them
  4. Not putting an effort (excluding recycling and composting) into buying items with minimal waste.
  5. Having a decently large house (and renting out a townhouse to tenants).
  6. Going to many places every day by bus and car.
  7. Being a swimmer, and using the swimming pool facility (which is the exact opposite of the natural environment it was built on).
  8. Having technology be a large part of my daily regime.
  9. Not really attempting to eat organic or locally grown food.
  10. Consuming dairy.

While this is generally common knowledge, I was surprised by the ratios of the points for certain actions to others. For example, if I was to use pesticides, that would account for many more penalty points than consuming dairy for my entire life. Another example is using the SFU/CG Brown swimming pool, which have been running for an incredibly long time, comparatively to the points for using a vehicle- whether it be in a bus or a car or a train. I would like to think that busing is friendlier than driving a car.


Knowing what actions have the most negative impact, these are the things that I tried to do in order to reduce the size of my ecological footprint.

Minimizing water usage

While this is a very broad idea, it encompasses many simple tasks such as showering for a shorter amount of time (4 minutes maximum), washing the dishes in a small sink bath instead of rinsing under running water, and being cautious and concise in watering gardens. These were relatively easy to make, disregarding the fact that my parents were a little neglectful of the idea of saving water by leaving the sprinkler on for a shorter amount of time and later in the day. These changes don’t provide a noticeable difference in my life, but they will make an impact if sustained for a longer time. Additionally, they are very easy to incorporate into my lifestyle and proved how easy it was not to abuse our right to water.

Ultimately busing

Because I visit many places in a day, I typically dedicate a large chunk of my time for transportation. This happens mostly by bus but I do get driven around quite a bit as well. Since my parents are definitely annoyed by my schedule and demand (because of the no-bus after dark policy and distance), I tried to minimize their need to bother themselves with this task by making sure that I took the bus every time that I was entitled to do so. Not as large of a lifestyle change as other things, I only increased my Transit use, on average, from 50% to 80% percent of the time. This eliminated some of the conflicts within my family too, and it provided me with evidence whenever I was being targeted as a cause for the lack of time. At the same time, it was very enjoyable for me because I got more time to contemplate my life decisions while blasting Hamilton on full volume through my earbuds. This is definitely something that I can keep up, but not completely enforce as some situations require that someone would drive me.

Vegetarianism (*an attempt)

I have never had a large love for meat (especially after working in the deli section of my store twice a week), and vegetarianism would have been a very easy option for me. My parents, on the other hand, are afraid of the idea and would not let me cease to consume meat because of it’s “essential nutritional benefits”. I decided that the only time that I would eat it would be when they force me to, and it will not be a part of my diet outside of my house. There is a Ted-Talk on being a “reducetarian”, meaning reducing your consumption of animal products without completely cutting them out of your diet. This is a foreign concept to most people, and it is looked upon as lacking the dedication to be a real vegan or just trying to make yourself feel better about your health. Being a picky eater, I’ve already adopted this concept into my life. I would like to continue in indulging in my childish ways, and all I have to do now is convince my family that my diet is ultimately my option.

Conserving electricity

Being the broadest of all, I also found this to be the most difficult. Simple tasks, such as always turning the light/appliances off, unplugging everything from electrical outlets when not in use, taking colder showers, air drying small loads of laundry, and adjusting your clothing layers well to the climate instead of using heaters or air conditioners, all seemed to add up to quite a bit more work. I understand why not many people do these things on a regular basis, because of how these jobs are a little inconvenient and a bit mentally draining. Personally, I know that I did not enjoy unplugging my large network of wires from behind my nightstand every morning. Setting up and using a laundry line in our backyard also took a lot more effort than just throwing the clothes into the drier. Taking cold showers, on the other hand, was relatively nice to the weather that we are currently having. Moving forward, it is important to formulate sturdy habits of always turning the light or power off in most appliances, as well as generally minimizing our screen time to only useful activities.

Simply reducing waste

Living in the lower mainland, recycling and composting have been introduced to all of us a long time ago. By now, it should be simple, familiar, and non-negotiable. It’s important to note that no matter how much we may do it, it does not mask the fact that the rate for the production of unnecessary materials (labels, cartons, plastic bags, straws, etc…) is constantly increasing. A bit of research and some documentaries into this investigation, I gathered the inclination to genuinely care for how serious of an impact this has on the planet and the statistics of the epidemic. I have noticed that certain food brands go completely over-the-top with packaging, so much so that the product itself is worth less than what it comes in. There isn’t a need for attempting to reduce waste for a small period of time when there is always the possibility to do this all the time. Changes like using your own water bottle, choosing foods with less packaging, buying less, and shopping at smaller local markets can reduce your waste a lot. While a lot of those decisions aren’t left up to me to put my judgment into, I realized that the small actions in every day will add up. These things will additionally make you feel less guilty to be alive and a bit more like a decent citizen. Other than being more prepared for every day, trying to be less of a raging consumer isn’t very difficult.


In conclusion, most of the things that I researched and learned in this assignment were things that I’ve heard before from all of our fellow passionate environmentalists and scientists. It does, though, take our own effort and understanding to actually commit to making a difference in our lifestyle. While not many people are there yet (myself included), more educational opportunities to the general public such as ecological footprint calculation or other significant hands-on activities will improve everyone’s participation and awareness of the subject.


While we are done with writing all of the necessary In-depth blog posts, I just wanted to quickly write this one in celebration of my most recent victory. It was a really tough, sacrificial, frustrating, yet scrumptious journey. I present to you, the croissants!








butter Boy am I serious when I say “never again”. The constant counter cleanup was not worth the title of having made croissants. I also couldn’t tell whether they were fully baked or just swimming in oil, either.



Guns and Ships DOL


I have had some trouble formatting this DOL in a way that makes sense and isn’t repetitive, so I am trying to use a new way to lay out this information.



As the 16th song in the Hamilton Musical, “Guns and Ships” contributes to the overall understanding of the plot by explaining some of the underlying information and hidden motives of the characters.


As an aristocratic Frenchman orphan, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette had quite a bit of ambition and opportunity available to him. Just like Hamilton, he could sense a potentially flourishing future in the ever-evolving 13 colonies, so he boarded a boat and traveled to Manhattan in hopes of pursuing the “American Dream”. He loved it. Because he was opulent in finance, family connections, and patriotism for his new nation, he traveled back to France in order to obtain more experience in the military and to kick-start his reputation. After going back and forth numerous times and establishing good relationships, he brought great potential into the economic and political bond between France and the Americans. When support was needed (such as in the Battle of Yorktown), Lafayette was granted an impressive amount of resources from the French military.

  • “We rendezvous with Rochambeau, consolidate their gifts”

An army general, Rochambeau, 5500 of his soldiers, weaponry, and navy access played a HUGE role in how the American Revolution turned out.

  • “Guns, and ships, and so the balance shifts”

*A key idea to keep in mind:

France, as the runner-up powerhouse nation at the time, was desperate to stir up conflict with England. After the French and Indian war and generally everything else that went up in the magical north (Canada), why would the French not take this wonderful opportunity to pair up with this revolutionary group of people to get back at the British? The colonists are also their descendants, which just makes the situation that many times worse.


Other than his resourcefulness, Lafayette was also known for how clever he was and his

  • “practical tactical brilliance”

Usually, he followed the principle of the Guerrilla method of attack which usually encompassed using a small group of troops to make the opposing team overestimate how dangerous you are, thus, completely distract them. Other small groups would be used to attack the enemy from all sides without allowing them notice (unlike in a standard war). While seeming to be nontraditional and unfair, it was highly effective. A prime example of this tactic is during the Battle of the Barren Hill (1778) when Lafayette send a portion of his ambushed army to keep the British occupied while the rest got evacuated through an Iroquois trail.



At the time of Lafayette’s discussion with Washington about how they will plan to attack at Yorktown, Hamilton was reprimanded from being the commander’s “right hand man” because he felt as though he wasn’t valued for more than just writing. He was eager to lead troops and fight in the war but opportunities to command were not given to him despite his vocalization, thus, he boycott from serving the government at all. It’s also important to mention that there were other contributing factors to Hamilton’s resignation, such as Eliza writing to the general that she was pregnant and needed the support of her husband, and Hamilton’s and Lauren’s duel plan against Charles Lee and Burr. Because the reason for this duel was that Lee disobeyed Washington and tarnished his name, Hamilton’s punishment from Washington for indirectly helping Laurens kill Lee isn’t as severe as it would have been in today’s standards. Duels were also considered to be a thing of the norm and very common. In the end, Hamilton’s ingenious mind, steadfast work ethic, loyalty to the general, language and literacy skills were highly missed, making Washington realize that Alexander’s job was inclusive of many more tasks than just drafting letters. If they wanted to use the resources obtained by Lafayette wisely, the best person to help them in the completion of the ambush was Hamilton.

  • “what’s he going to do on the bench I mean?”
  • “need my right hand man back”

Washington finally dipped into letting Hamilton lead his own troops, and desperately invited him back into the position but to be more than his just his right hand man.



While this song encompasses many ideas, the most prominent and applicable one may be that collective identity is constructed, and can change over time. We see a direct reflection of this concept when we look at basically every historical figure in the musical and even the American Revolution as a whole. Starting off with –figuratively and literally- nothing, both the characters and the revolution catalyzed their potential for obtaining new opportunities (Hamilton’s hurricane testament and emerging and the colonies’ emerging ideologies). They kept on expanding their horizons, obtaining more experience, and structuring a greater societal rank. Eventually, Washington had as much hope in a poor orphan from the Caribbean as Lafayette had in a settlement of people who ran away from the tyranny of 17th century England.

Additionally to the previous quotes included as evidence, these are more important snippets that provide good contributions to the themes of this song:

  1. “How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower somehow defeat a global superpower?”

As mentioned in basically every other Hamilton song, the theme of “work ethic” is one that has divine power over all the others in this musical. No matter how cliché and repeated the statement “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” is, the fact that the colonist’s militia (barely classifiable as an army) defeated one of the most powerful nation’s army is theoretically impossible. We may love this musical so much because the plot continues to be hit with impressive, positively unfounded events like this one.


  1. “And I’m never gonna stop until I make ’em
    Drop and burn ’em up and scatter their remains, I’m”

Other than being a complete mouthful to say, this line exemplifies the lesson of perseverance. Although violence and war is not something that is socially acceptable nowadays, the idea of working though the barriers of something in order to get a good, globally beneficial outcome is incredibly important to living in a world of any time era. Lafayette was determined on fighting off the British troops to bring peace back into the city of Yorktown and to quiet the revolution’s conflict, so he went ahead with the necessary actions and sacrifices in order to make it happen.


  1. “You wanna fight for your land back? I need my right hand man back!”

Washington wasn’t the brightest kid and did not have a spectacular education, so he made sure to recruit intellectuals (like Hamilton) to work along with him and put his political power to proper use. It is admirable that he was able to recognize that make sure that he was getting the help necessary in order to govern a large country properly and not let pride or narcissism get in the way of that. Teamwork is very important.


  1. “I have soldiers that will yield for you
    If we manage to get this right
    They’ll surrender by early light
    The world will never be the same, Alexander…”


Because Washington realized how important his “right hand man” is to him, he made many sacrifices in order to get Hamilton back in the game. Hamilton was desperate to get field experience, and the only way that he was going to be won back was to give him the opportunity to command despite his lack of experience in the area and how much that could possible cost the economy. In the end, the risky sacrifice of resources and sanity –to some extent- landed the Americans a splendid victory in history.


Putting aside this abundance of information, I chose to research this song purely because it was fun to listen to. As a matter of a fact, the 19 word passage of theme number two is the fastest phrase rapped in any Broadway musical; averaging at 6.3 words per second. Comparatively to all the other Hamilton songs, this one isn’t exactly superior or even my personal favourite. They’re all phenomenal, but I just happened to write all of this about this one.


See the source image

Last In-Depth Post

With the start of April-May-June, the past couple of weeks have been quite hectic, yet much more productive than usual. I’ve had small amounts of free time here and there, and I dedicated those segments to a larger baking project. Puff pastry is very time consuming, with the many folds and chillings that need to be done before it is completed, so it took a couple of days just to prepare the dough itself. I was originally going to use that dough to make croissants, but despite my best efforts, it turned out to be very uneven and sticky. I used the dough to then instead make just puff-pastry squares and attempt croissants later. I have a couple more recipes that I want to attempt and finalize, which take up the time right before in-depth night.


Additionally, it was my mom’s birthday a couple days ago. While my in-depth is mainly about dough, practicing utilizing batters is also important for obtaining experience. We made a cake that is based off of a soufflé batter, and has many components to its icing. It was one of the only cakes available to the public back in the communist days of Russia.


During In-depth night, I want to assemble a sampling station for the various types of dough and pastries. If I have about 10 different types of pastries with about 20 bite sized pieces, then that would be quite a sufficient amount for a presentable learning center. As this is quite a large amount, I will do my best to prepare for all this baking by premaking the majority of the dough. Also, I will provide copies of the recipes, suggestions for dietary adjustments, and additional baking tip. The hardest part of the preparation process of this will probably be how organized I have to be in order to complete this large task. In the end, I can only hope that this doesn’t go wrong and I don’t poison anyone.

Hamilton- Big Ideas

Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.

“The ship is in the harbour now

See if you can spot him

Another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom”

As many places in the world put a large emphasis on hierarchical social status at the time, Hamilton went against what most people would follow by working his way up to success from a very poor life. There was also a lot of controversy around immigrants (such as the 13 colonies from England’s viewpoint) and they were not appreciated as much since they hade no roots, connections, or experience in the area.


Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.

“By fourteen, they placed him in charge of a trading charter

And every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted away”

Alexander was a light-coloured person, even though he may have been poor and of low societal ranking at first. Comparatively to coloured immigrants, he had a much easier time bringing himself to success, especially because slavery was still rolling. Hamilton was able to be in charge of an aspect of the trade, while even very experienced African adults were not allowed to do anything nearly as important.


Collective identity is constructed and can change over time.

“In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar

The ten-dollar founding father without a father

Got a lot farther by working a lot harder”

Over time, he changed what was perceived of with a lot of hard work and effort. Starting off in a really poor life, he didn’t let the belief in social status and heritage prevent him from becoming great and rising to the top of the government.


The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change. 

“Planning for the future see him no as he stands on the now as he stands on the now of a ship headed for a new land

In New York you can be a new man'”

Because the Carribean wasn’t in the most prosperous situation at the time, Hamilton believed that he needed to change his environment if he wanted to lead a better life than the people that came before him. There would be many more opportunities in this new place to learn new things, find work, and escape any of the drawbacks of his previous home. Also, the 13 Colonies have been constantly evolving predictions of their future success may have spread.


Independent Investigation #1

The Fur-Trade of the 18th and 19th century is a very significant and controversial topic, depending on what perspective you look at it from. As a general, non-biased summary, what happened was that the early European colonization of Eastern North America was highly reliant on the people, resources, and land that was available in such an unknown and foreign environment. The French and English colonies –subjectively- tried quite hard to establish a trusting and efficient relationship with the indigenous people of the land. Because human nature values survival more than ethics, we have a history of acting in our best interest especially when we are less connected to the opposing party. Because the settlers have been exposed to the more “modernized” lifestyle of capitalism and the aboriginal people have not, there wasn’t an equal playing field in terms of the comprehension of the agreements and treaties. Moreover, the language and social experience barrier played a large role in how much trust was put in the desperate, determined, and feisty European colonies. The example of this issue that will be discussed is the influence the Hudson’s Bay Company and export of beaver pelts had on the economic and social lives of the aboriginal people.

Image result for fur trade

There are many overviews of this topic because of how important it is to our past. Since most online information is/are secondary sources in the form of articles written by secondary source people, it was hard to determine whether the information was authentic or not. The closest informative resource that I found to be primary is the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives. Although they were not written at the time of the incident, they are solid evidence to the happening of the fur-trade and the responsibility of the HBC and the founders of Canada. Some websites were harder to understand than others, but the basic theme of the arguments revolved around the morals of what decent behaviour is within a society.

When analyzing how the Fur-trade has developed and impacted the various communities, we notice that there are several perspectives that come into play. The beginning of the exchange of resources could be what some consider to be “revolutionary” because of how surprisingly well the set up worked and “acceptance” of the other culture was achieved. Trading companies valued natural resources such as furs and pelts, whereas the aboriginal were striving to have the convenient items that Europeans had lots of, such as metal, textiles, foodstuffs, and guns. This was fantastic for both parties, because the exchanges were efficient, organized, and done –somewhat- peacefully at their respective trading posts. Despite the many other drawbacks of the agreements between the communities, the first nations did benefit from the rivalry of the French and English. For example, the HBC’s denial to set up trading posts in the interior of Rupert’s Land heightened the value of pelts that are delivered to the coast, so that HBC had enough exported material to accommodate the sales it was expected to make. This prosperity was quite short-lived, though.

What we don’t always consider when we think of this constantly evolving time are the impediments that were inflicted upon the native population. Firstly, most of the agreements between the Europeans and Aboriginal people weren’t fair to begin with. Language barriers, lack of economic and social experience, and knowledge of material worth all contributed to the amount of profit that the colonies were making. Aboriginal heritage, traditions, and morals passed down by generations focus on teaching trustworthiness, respect, and fairness. It is argued that those qualities of their culture were significantly taken advantage of throughout the trade. In a way, the items that were being received in the trade were very functional and helpful, falsely displaying an exaggerated amount of worth. Because of this hunger to modernize the culture that has followed land-friendly traditions for thousands of years, many inter-aboriginal relationships were broken. With many bread givers relying on the fur-trade as a primary source of support, hunting became the most competitive profession with the intensity ever-escalating as the majority of the beaver population eventually got killed. The Battle of Seven Oaks and the ongoing rivalry between HBC and NWC are examples of conflicts that wouldn’t have gone as far if not so much was at stake for the employees. Eventually, the growth of the white population and accumulated knowledge of the land lead to a point where the massive colonies are able to be completely independent. Assimilation of the remaining coloured people (those who did not die from European-introduced diseases) into the mainstream white culture was the goal, although significantly later in Canadian history than our focused time period.

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All of these circumstances and factors can be very uneven and strange when added up for an outcome to view from out perspective, but such an issue was probably judged in a whole other way back then. From what we can observe from the result of this trade, the nature of the aboriginal way of life may have been more trusting and forgiving to everyone, making it so much more unfair that those qualities could have been spotted and abused. It is quite clear that the settlers have always had the upper hand in knowledge when it came to experience with difficult people, desperate situations, and economic stance and sustainability. With current understanding of this significant difference, we know that just the act of trading with first nation’s people is already unfair to them. Another example of differentiating perspectives is the racism that the remaining people were faced with, because while we currently know that it is the wrong thing on all levels, the idea of racism didn’t exist then and was instead propelled by the very thing that encouraged life: religion. Being of different beliefs contradicted the whole idea of coming together to be good humans, but they did make up their mind on the importance of loyalty to their beliefs.

Image result for the fur trade

In the end, the Hudson’s Bay Company, Northwest Company, and general export of beaver pelts have all had a large influence on the culture and working lives of the aboriginal people. The colonization of Canada by the English and French couldn’t have happened without the fur-trade, help from aboriginal people, and funding from the home countries. If that were the case, then the many incredibly unique cultures of many Native American groups would still be around today, along with the people that never died from foreign diseases. At the same time, those groups and Europeans eventually meeting would still likely call for the same problems, such as an inequality of knowledge, manipulation of culture, and loss of resources.


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3.Crossroads- A Meeting of Nations






In Depth post 5

The mentoring for the last couple of weeks had been less than at the beginning of this project, but nonetheless it has been just as valuable and productive as before. I have been quite busy lately, and I really appreciate that my mentor is very flexible and is willing to make time for me in most cases. Also, the fact that she’s generally a very understanding and easygoing person is really helpful to our mentoring sessions because of how easily plans can change and better ideas can come along. Because cooking is her favourite hobby, I’ve learned that she always has to be on her toes in terms of baking for any special occasions that she sometimes doesn’t know about until the day of. She is such a positive and relaxed person, and just being around her is really fun because the conversation definitely doesn’t always revolve around the task at hand. Her friend’s daughter owns a business of making these beautiful paper flowers and display walls.

Of course, that isn’t just an understated way of saying we don’t do anything. My mentor doesn’t work in the area or have any connections, but I find that her experience is definitely enough to learn from for this project. After all, there are so many things that I can learn from the internet as well. There is also my job, which is a great place to observe the industrial food preparation process. The machinery and setup is really interesting. To actually bake, you would need to have a number of certifications as well as a legitimate culinary education. I, on the other hand, just clean the premises and work the register.

Last week, I attempted at making rainbow bagels. My mistake was forgetting to put the food colouring into the yeast water, initially so it was hard to mix in. The fact that it was the worst type of colouring also didn’t help much. I would add the picture, but it’s really blurred and the bagels were burned anyways.