Global Conflicts: a Document of Learning

The liberation of Europe.

What a huge, open topic! The liberation of Europe had been the fight of the Allied forces and the German empire; It was the struggle to regain the land that was taken by Germany and Hitler. Canada had been a significant part of the numerous fights it took to liberate the European land.

Countless details and events could be noted in this DOL, but a good list in chronological order that shows the liberation of Europe is as follows:

  1. Battle for Brest
  2. Falaise Pocket
  3. Operation Dragoon
  4. The liberation of Paris
  5. Operation Market Garden
  6. Battle of the Bulge
  7. Aftermath

In this DOL, I will be going over

a. what the event was

b. the effect of it on Canada / Canada’s POV (if applicable)


Battle for Brest

What was it?

The Battle for Brest was a battle that took place immediately after Normandy was invaded by the Allies (D-Day.). Fought on the Western Front of Europe, this battle aimed for the invasion of mainland Europe (German land) to capture of port facilities, in order to ensure the delivery of the huge amount of war material required to supply the *Allied forces to continue with further invasions.

(*The Allied Forces  indicate mainly England, The Soviet Union, Canada, and France.) 

The Germans in the Brittany Peninsula were isolated by a north-south breakthrough lead by George Patton’s 3rd USA army.

The battle was victorious on the Allies’ side.

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The Brittany Peninsula. The Blue arrows indicate the movement of the allies who took Brest.

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Canada’s piece:

The battle of Brest did not affect Canada directly, as the US and their men were responsible for taking the land of Brittany from the Germans. However, this boosted Allied forces’ morale, let the allies have access to extra military supplies for future attacks, and marked the beginning of liberation. Essentially, a change in the social paradigm.

Canadians would soon participate in battles against the Axis forces, and the victory of this battle gave them more ammunition, more supplies to provide their men with, increasing Canada’s economic prosperity in the long run.


Falaise Pocket

What was it?

After the victory in Brittany, the Germans took a massive disaster. British and Canadian troops from the North and American troops in the south trap the German 7th army, German Army Group B, and the Fifth Panzer army in a near-wipeout encircling movement. The battle is also known as the “Falaise Gap”, after the corridor which the Germans sought to maintain to allow their escape. 

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Canada’s piece: In this battle, Canada was directly a belligerent in fighting as an Allied force. The Canadian 1st army, lead by Commander Harry Crerar, charged through the north region of the Falaise Pocket. 5679 Canadians were lost in this battle. This showed that the autonomy of Canada, as none of Canada’s men were obligated to fight in this war, yet a whole army of volunteering troops have fought and died in the name of Canada and the allies. This strengthens the patriotic identity of Canada, touching on political and social terms.


Operation Dragoon


What was it?

In August 1944, Allied troops landed in the south of France to little resistance. The southern part of the Axis forces were so underprepared that on one beach, the allied armies found a single man handing out Champaign!

A veteran alive today who was part of the operation recalls,

“A French waiter in full dress, carrying a tray bearing several glasses and a bottle of champaign. Offering, the Frenchman remarked “Welcome to France, Gentlemen. Only, if I might offer a slight criticism, you are a few years later than we would have preferred.””

Although that particular beach had an odd happening, the Axis forces did fight back. Many lives were lost in this operation’s process.

The allied Belligerents this time included:

USA, France, England, and Canada on the ground,

Australia and South Africa on Air support,

and both Greece and New Zealand providing Naval support.

Operation Dragoon was the allied invasion of Southern France in an attempt to liberate the once autonomously standing country. The main goal, however, of Dragoon was to secure the vital ports on the French Mediterranean coast to increase pressure on German forces by opening another front. The main invasion force landings proceeded to go on bombing missions, hitting the Germans heavily by interrupting railroads, damaging bridges and cutting off the communication network. 

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Canada’s piece: A significant number of Canadians took part here as the previous battle, both on the boat and on the ground in Southern France. It is especially important to remember the Canadian troops who fought in this battle as they fought under the binational US-Canadian “FIrst special service force”, which is often mistaken as a full American army. This, exemplifies the beginning of the Canada-US relationship, touching on political values of both countries.


The liberation of Paris

What was it?

The liberation of Paris is per se, the result of the three battles we went over above. Paris, the heart and capital of France, was liberated and finally free from Germany. The puppet state of Vichy France (The state of France that was permitted to continue its existence under German rule, to make it look like France has turned on the allied forces) was no more. This was also called the Battle for Paris and Belgium.  August 25th, German commander Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered the French capital. The Germans were being attacked out of France, and the allied forces started entering Belgian territory to further invade the axis forces. In this battle, the Belligerents of the allies were France, The US (but Canada included), and England. 

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Canada’s Piece: The “liberation of Paris” is a broad term, When we say that Paris was liberated, it is the collective work of the allied forces that fought numerous battles for liberation. Arguably, I would say that by this point, the allied forces have won half of the world war. Now that the industrial heart and patriotic unity within France were regained, it isn’t looking so good for Hitler. Canada’s 1st army was continuously fighting bravely alongside the other allied armies – this victory was not only England and France’s, but it was also a large victory the uplifted the social dynamic of Canadians, who have both British and French blood in their veins.

Economically, the liberation of Paris gave the allied forces much more power in terms of the arsenal. This meant that militia support didn’t need to be so heavily provided by other allied countries including Canada. Due to this, Canada’s GDP DOUBLED.


Operation Market Garden

ah, Operation Market Garden. The unexpected and humiliating failure. This operation had a lot of components to it, but to summarize it in the simplest form possible, it is as follows:

Operation Market Garden was an operation that was the largest airborne attack up to that time, an attempt to liberate the Netherlands. Allied troops landed a bit far away west from the cities of Oosterbeck and Arnhem, where they planned to take over and fight off the Germans. They marched on to the cities but a huge portion of the army (including the Canadian 1st army) had to stay behind because their supply drops would be happening where they initially landed: Far away from where they wanted to attack. Only one army ended up going into Arnhem, got surrounded by German troops and ended up being captured. From southward, there were a few other battles that ended in victory and they were making their way up to assist their troops at Oosterbecka and Arnhem, but the bridges that had been previously connecting the paths had been destroyed. The victories from southward battles had no value if Oosterbeck and Arnhem weren’t taken by the Allies. Trying to help captured army troops in Arnhem, the allies scattered and it greatly disorganized the placement of troops. Worse yet, the British radio system failed halfway through and they could not communicate any longer. The operation ended in failure, they could not liberate the Netherlands.

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Canada’s piece:

As mentioned multiple times, an allied victory or loss directly means a Canadian victory or loss. 81 tanks were destroyed in this failed operation, that most likely lowered soldiers’ morale. This was a setback – many soldiers lost their lives and the battle was lost.


The Battle of the Bulge

Although the few setbacks happened, the allied forces were still making progress. Soon, they were threatening the industrial heartland of Germany (the Ruhr Valley). By this point, Hitler’s mental and physical health was rapidly deteriorating. He recalled the past victory in the Battle of Belgium when German troops fought to throw the Ardennes, rough forests, to surround allied forces at the waterfront (This resulted in Dunkirk.) in 1940. He decided to do the exact same thing. Again.


“Lighting war”.

It was a glorious victory for the Germans in 1940. But by this point in the war?

Hitler recollected his forces and tried to blitzkrieg through the rough terrain or the Ardennes again. He used up most of Germany’s remaining resources and forces.

To the allies’ surprise, Hitler managed to create a pretty nice bulge in the territories (thus, the battle of the bulge). 

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In the process, he took the Belgian city of Bastogne (as seen above). During Hitler’s charge in the Battle of the Bulge, he also did the siege of Bastogne, when he captured an American army in the city of Bastogne.

In the siege, the commanding officer received a letter from the Germans that stated:




To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armoured units. More German armoured units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honourable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

The German Commander.

Yada, yada, yada.

The Germans just meant:

Surrender, or we will annihilate you.


The official reply from American General Anthony  McAullife was,


To the German Commander.


The American Commander.


The Americans thought to surrender in the encirclement was nuts, and they fought hard.

Then, General George Patton’s Army managed to break the siege southwest, so the Germans were pushed back. Their “bulge” was now pushed back to square one.


Then, came the aftermath.

Soviets Capture Warsaw, and Berlin

Soviets capture Warsaw – Soviet troops liberate the Polish capital from German occupation. The allied forces of Canada, The USA, England, and France fought the Germans from the west, but the Soviets fought the Germans from the east. The Soviet Union successfully fought off the German axis forces to capture Warsaw, soon Berlin.

Mussolini Execution, Hitler suicide

Benito Mussolini, Italy’s fascist leader is executed. This causes some commotion in Europe. What follows is the end of the Nazis – Hitler realized that all hope was lost in his bunker. He shot himself in the head, and he was gone, with his dreams of a great German empire.

Victory in Europe Day

After all of the horrendous bloodshed, war was finally over.

May 8th, 1945.

Check out Jayden’s DOL for more information on VE day.

Finally, Europe was liberated.


How is Canada affected by the liberation of Europe?

First of all, Canadian volunteer troops fought hard. They supplied men and arsenal, which is an economic toll on Canada. Now that War is over in Europe, Canada is able to go with the other allied troops to assist against the war going on in Japan. By concentrating more allied forces’ resources in one place, Canada saves a lot of money, prospering economically in the long run.


Thank you for reading my DOL!



Operation Dragoon

Desmos Graphing!

Desmos: Totoro

When it came to figuring out what exactly I was going to draw on a graphing calculator, I had a lot of trouble selecting an image to base my work off of. I considered doing rather complex flowers or characters, but their outlines were so irregularly illustrated that I spent half the class time on the first day searching for the right image. Finally, I just decided to stop looking for something “easy” and do something I actually like. I chose to draw Totoro, a mythical creature in the Ghibli Universe. He had curves and lines, edges and rounded corners, so I thought he’d be appropriate to show my skills in graphing.

In the first few lines I drew, I thought I’d try some guessing and testing, punch some numbers in, and check if it would fit. This method was very ineffective and inefficient, so I looked back on my note package and used some of the things we learned about prior to this project. Sure enough, efficiency went up!

For each of the body parts, I used the following equations and functions.

Hands: Quadratic equations

Nose+Mouth: Circle relation, linear equations

Whiskers: Linear equations

General body outline: Square root function, Reciprocal function, Quadratic equations, Cubic Equations

Feet: Reciprocal equations, linear equations

Eyes: Circle relations

Chest Marks (these took a lot of experimenting to do as they were all slightly different irregular shapes.): Linear equations, Circle relations, Quadratic Equations.

As for strategies, I had a few.

Because Totoro has seven chest marks, all of them slightly different in size and requiring two circles, I copy pasted circle relations in and just changed the variables that needed to be changed rather than plugging in new values to a skeleton equation every single time Totoro needed a circle.

Totoro is also symmetrical in some parts of his body. By copy pasting some equations and by adding a + or – in necessary places, I reflected some lines over the y-axis and saved a lot of time.

I also played around a bit with restrictions as well, using both > and < in them to have fun.

If someone were to ask me what I learned from doing this, I’d tell them I know how to draw things with math now.

That’s a joke –

In all seriousness, I familiarized myself with what different lines from different functions and relations look like. I also got to practice domain and range using restrictions and developed critical thinking every time I thought Hm, that didn’t work. What should I try next? 

Overall, this was a very satisfying project. I have to say, after 80+ equations in desmos, one feels a great sense of accomplishment!


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.

Last In-Depth Post!

Sweet Jesus, there are now less than 20 days until in-depth night.

Many things have happened after my last post, and I learned a lot in general. First things first, I scraped together some of my own money and purchased a slightly better ukulele that didn’t go out of tune every 5 minutes. Yes, my mother wasn’t happy, but I needed it (oops…).

This new ukulele is a Kala ukulele, an actual brand, that has a clearer sound than the other one I had.

I have mastered the song “Banana Pancakes”, but a little problem arose in the middle of making my presentation for in-depth night.

The song’s key was too low. Yes, I could sing it, but it sounded quite frankly, terrible. I panicked because I thought that I ran out of time to learn anything else, so I talked to Hira about it. She thought me learning this song was very beneficial for my general learning in ukulele and it helped my fingers more flexible, so it’s not wasted time. Hira and I took some time to search songs that I can learn now for the performance, and we’ve looked on Sunday Morning, Officially Missing you, WIsh you were gay, and a bunch of other songs. I told Hira that I wanted to learn SOME fingerpicking as I need to demonstrate learning, and chords seem relatively easier to an audience that doesn’t play this instrument. I know this because I thought ukulele was going to be an easy ride. It is not, by the way. It’s more difficult than I thought.

Last Tuesday, I brought my ukulele to school and showed Hira what I can do now. My chord transitions with G, D7, Am, C7 are quite smooth and my riff was good. I told her that I was struggling to find a song that I can both sing and play while demonstrating adequate learning. We sat down together and did some research, and I mentioned “let her go” by Passenger. Hira and I talked about it and at the end of the session, we agreed to do it.

So now, that is my final choice, a choice I didn’t make on my own but with my Mentor!!

Today, I met with Hira again. There were so many different versions of this song, some just chords, some just fingerpicking, some both, and some of which sounded pretty darn horrible, to be frank.

Hira and I tried to go through every version we could find and search for the best sounding and intermediate level arrangement. We agreed on the one “ukutabs” provided over the written tabs I initially found, which turned out to sound odd. Today I also learned what “hammering” was in the ukulele. I tried the technique and it turned out to be far too difficult for me to try to learn in the amount of time I have, so we decided not to use it, but try picking faster to smoothen transitions.

Hira and I will be meeting again next Monday. We will be meeting much more often now because:

a. Musical theatre is over for her

b. Time is scarce

c. I need one on one time in learning rather than using time correcting my own mistakes.


How to have a beautiful mind:

De Bono writes, “Alternatives of action and of ideas are about the future. . . .Alternatives of explanation and perception; however, are about the present and the past” (p. 135).

What alternatives have your mentor offered you throughout this project? What alternatives may another mentor have offered you? Discuss in detail.


In terms of finding alternative solutions to problems, the first thing that pops up into mind is when I was anxious about finding a new song. De Bono talks about three different types of alternatives, but I will be talking about the Action Alternatives:

  1. Think of known alternatives
  2. Then ask what other alternatives may be available

When I realized my initial choice of song wouldn’t be a good performance, I immediately started doing my own research of songs to find some alternatives. Like mentioned above, I found a few songs that I could sing and didn’t have terribly difficult chords.

I later saw Hira and consulted her what else I could do. She calmed me down and told me that there is still time to practice other songs and that I could definitely mix riffs and chords like I did before and she showed me a few songs and helped me narrow it down.


…I have calluses on my fingers.

That’s a good thing, in guitar and ukulele.


Oh, I almost forgot to mention: I am helping out Albert with his guitar performance. He asked me to sing a very high-key song, so I told Hira about it and as you know, Hira is very experienced in singing. She suggested that if he and I both had the time, we could come to her together and get a few tips on singing.

This is going to be fun. I hope my for a grand finale of Yunmin’s life in talons.

JAM essay

Yunmin Lee


May 5th, 2019


Outcome over process: John A. MacDonald’s Way of Victory


With continuous changes in our social paradigm, the media of today tends to communicate rather provocative and negative criticisms of eminent figures in history. Unfortunately, Canada’s first prime minister is not an exception. John A. Macdonald’s contributions towards Canadian history should be respected and praised as his work stands as the keystone foundation of Canada, the country Canadians proudly call home. Along with many world leaders in both the present and the past, John A. Macdonald is often critically acclaimed based on his methodology, rather than his respectable achievements. A significant number Canadians hold beliefs that are against MacDonald’s appraisal due to various reasons such as the creation of the Indian Act and general racial segregation, which was justified at the time,  yet fail to recognize the number of accomplishments he made during his lifetime. His unrivalled expertise in political relations, prudent decisions in the establishment of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and his intrepid implementation of tariff policies were all crucial steps of building our nation. Most importantly, without his determination “to make certain that Canada did not become America”, there would be no Canada we have today, let alone have a country at all (Gwyn).


A number of politicians were known throughout the world for their supreme social skills; John A. Macdonald was definitely one of them. His determination and a strong sense of leadership led Eastern and Western Canada as well as the French community to follow his footsteps into joining Confederation despite his equally powerful rivals such as George Brown, who did not want to uphold the rights of the French. Furthermore, John A. Macdonald was also recognized for his flexible mindset. He had an extraordinary ability to abruptly abandon ideologies that had lost popularity in favour of alternatives he had previously opposed. A famous example would be representation by population, a political system in which seats are allocated in the House of Commons on the basis of population. Such qualities he possessed as a leader “allowed Macdonald to remain continuously in public life from 1843 to his death in 1891” (Pennington) and represent the Canadian citizens. His strategy of giving the people what they wanted, or as some may argue, needed, rather than bluntly imposing his own beliefs on the public was arguably a quality that made him a memorable and influential leader, creating the Canada we have now.


Today, many Canadians criticize John A. Macdonald’s personal morals, arguing that his racist prejudicial views against the Chinese and Indigenous peoples back in his time is completely unacceptable. What these criticisms fail to capture is that social ideologies were drastically different in the past. Macdonald may have been a “racist, a colonizer, and a misogynist”, but the majority of the Canadian population supported such beliefs (Hopper). Additionally, some may argue that John A. MacDonald as a person had morally questionable values, but it is not a leader’s job to advocate for every individual, but to advocate for his country. While in power, Macdonald said, “On the whole, it is considered not advantageous to the country that the Chinese should come and settle in Canada,”. “That may be right or it may be wrong, it may be prejudice or otherwise, but the prejudice is near universal”. His prudent decisions to value a whole nation not only gives him an advantage over his people as a leader but, he strengthens the sense of community by reinforcing shared values. Macdonald viewed politics as a game “which requir[ed] great coolness and an utter abnegation of prejudice and personal feeling” (John A. Macdonald), …. These abilities further prove that John A. MacDonald was a strategical and essential leader for the development of Canada.


Our founding father has always had his controversies, but he was particularly under the spotlight in 2017, when MacDonald was voted to be removed from all public infrastructures such as statues or schools by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. He may have contributed to racial prejudice, but the “defining issue to him was quite clear and he never deviated from it, he was bound and determined that Canada would not become American, that Canada would not join the United States” (Mills). John A Macdonald’s ideology was that the Canadian way of life was the British way of life, which he considered to be superior compared to the American counterpart. His last election was a battle against a free trade agreement with the USA, which became background chatter as soon as his Pacific Railway scandal arose. To everyone’s surprise, he still managed to win with a larger majority than when he was thrown out. Although the raised awareness of Indigenous reconciliation and acknowledgement of past prejudicial events is beneficial for today’s Canada, we must not forget John A. MacDonald’s integral work in confederation to establish the Canada we have today.


Works Cited (MLA)


“Confederation.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, Accessed 9 May 2019.

“Facing Sir John A. Macdonald’s Legacy.” The Canadian Encyclopedia,

Hopper, Tristin. “Sure, John A. Macdonald Was a Racist, Colonizer and Misogynist – but so Were Most Canadians Back Then.” National Post, 24 Jan. 2015,

“What Makes a Great PM? Sir John A. Macdonald Biographer Weighs In.” The Globe and Mail, 9 May 2018,


Canadian Biography Check – in

The following are my five passages from Viola Desmond: Her Life and TImes.

*these quotes are told from the perspective of Viola’s sister, Wanda, who is alive today.

  1. Personal Interest: What did you find particularly interesting or intriguing about this passage from your reading? Unpack your ideas about your provided quote, and challenge yourself to connect these ideas to your own life or prior learning.
  2. Canadian Identity: What insights or pieces of wisdom might these passages reveal about Canadian values at the time of the text’s publication? What does each passage reveal about what it means to be a Canadian now?

“In spite of obstacles of racial discrimination, she like other middle-class black’s in Halifax’s North end was able to achieve great success in her life.”

  1. This was one of the passages that immediately got my attention around the beginning of the biography. The only thing that I really knew about Viola Desmond was that a. she was on the new ten dollar bill and b. that she stood up to racial segregation in Canada. The idea of “racial segregation” must’ve made me associate a subconscious stigma of only hardship and pain with standing up to issues like racism because I expected her life to be just pain and difficulties that were recognized only much later on. Literally, the first chapter of the book states that she achieved not just success, but great success in her life. When I think about black activists like Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated, I always thought of dangerous and dynamic lives. The beginning of the book already had me saying, “wow, I can’t wait to learn about how she and her other friends achieved success in the ’40s, when racism was a normal thing.”
  2. It is a given that racial segregation and discrimination was a completely acceptable and widely practised belief as mentioned at the beginning of the passage, but it also shows that middle-class blacks specifically in Halifax’s North end were able to be successful. It may signify an unclear yet existent sense of community and acceptance of different races in certain parts of Canada. After all, the ones being discriminated against may have had less power, but were undeniably a part of Canada’s identity then. The fact that this passage makes me proud and happy that Viola overcame the obstacle of racism and gained success proves that values created by society, have changed since then.


“I didn’t have a lot of new clothes to choose from so I usually wore a tunic with the white blouse and a red tie. This was a voluntary school uniform but only a few of us wore it.”

  1. This is Wanda, Viola’s sister speaking. This passage didn’t have anything to do about Viola herself, but it made me read it twice. I have never heard of something like a “voluntary” school uniform. It made me wonder about the educational system of Halifax back then, as Wanda went to a public school with whites and blacks alike. Having a school uniform be choice also made me think about where the education system back then was sitting on the political spectrum. I thought maybe right-leaning, as giving choices and respecting individuality was more of a right point of view, as we learned in class.
  2. I feel like Canada, or more specifically in the area of Halifax, had a more free, pro-choice nuance in comparison to other parts of the world at that time. When I think about Korea in the ’40s, it’s crazy to even think about not wearing uniforms to school. It’s crazy to even go to school (it’s expensive.). Canada back then seems to be a right-leaning, choice-oriented place. After all, John A. MacDonald was the founder of the conservative party.


“Viola knew I wasn’t happy at school […], so I asked her if I could borrow one of her dresses. Viola agreed, [but] she asked after school, “Well, did anybody say anything to you?” I said no. She then asked, “Did anyone turn their head and give you a second look?” and I said no again. “You thought wearing a dress would make a difference in the way people see and think about you but it didn’t. You have to be yourself, Wanda, and stand up for yourself or you won’t get along anywhere.”

  1. This rather laconic passage had me mumbling praises under my breath. This was the first story that was directly about only Viola herself. This wasn’t an autobiography or had much information prior for me to learn about what kind of person she was. This passage highlighted immediately that she was a wise, bold, and prudent person. Wanda was struggling to find friends at school and wanted to change her usual appearance to attract people, and Viola knew it wouldn’t work. Instead of simply telling Wanda, she let her learn for herself and taught a valuable lesson along the way. As we already know, Viola was an influential black activist. She not only stood for her race, but she stood for individual identity. In my opinion, being yourself is one of the most cliche yet one of the more difficult things to do. Viola not only stood for herself and her race, but made sure that her family did too.
  2. Wanda was afraid and didn’t seem to mind the status quo of no change in getting rid of racism, but Viola wanted Wanda to be proud of the way she was born. In the previous pages, there are stories of black people who supported and shared views like Wanda’s and some Viola’s. I feel like the victims of racism at this time in Canada either endured and lived with it or stood for themselves despite the physical and mental risks that came with it, which says something about the development of Canadian Identity.


“My husband abandoned me and left me without financial support […] I resorted to using candles for light and a wood-burning potbelly stove for heat and cooking meals. […] I contacted the city’s family services to apply for financial assistance in the form of food coupons to purchase groceries. […] U remember [being told]: “You don’t deserve assistance unless you help yourself.” […] Viola asked me if I had sought assistance from family services and I told her about the conversation. […] Viola entered the room and, after excusing herself for the interruption, she spoke to the mayor and described what had transpired between the caseworker and myself. She told him it was a life and death situation. The mayor thanked her for bringing the matter to his attention but indicated nothing could be done until the following Monday. Viola replied in her soft but insistent matter: “that’s fine, but you should know, children die on Saturdays too.”

  1. This story left me astonished. Wanda, again, being a victim of discrimination at a time of serious need by the government, turned to Viola who stood up for her. By this point, I already have established huge respect for Viola’s bravery and strength in character. In previous years of my own life, I was told many times in different situations that it’s best to just ignore some of the world’s injustice as it may aggravate the people causing it to do more harm. As a result, I have learned to stand up to my own beliefs and not be ashamed to express concern for what I do not think is right. It could be seen as defiant, but I always wondered how I could do so without seeming disrespectful. This passage made me think that by the time I finish this book, Viola Desmond may have given me an answer to standing up for oneself while keeping composure.
  2. I already knew that racism was “normal” everywhere back then. Now, this has been even further confirmed in this passage as the governmental levels have expressed disrespect to Wanda at a life or death situation. It proves that people of power and authority held these beliefs as well (as I expected), and expressed them rudely. It also shows that there are people who stand up for it as well, Viola, which brings me joy.



“Miss, you can’t sit here because your ticket is for the upstairs balcony.” My sister said she would change her ticket and she went back to the cashier who told her, “I would like this exchanged for a downstairs ticket.” The cashier replied: “We are not allowed to sell downstairs tickets to you people.”

  1. This is the passage that was the beginning of the event Viola Desmond is most known for. Her theatre incident. I have only heard and been told that Viola stood up for herself at a movie theatre when she was denied seating. I thought that the theatre sold her the tickets but patrons within the theatre might’ve displayed disgust, but it was actually quite worse. They sold her the ticket, let her be a victim of racism when she entered the theatre, and then went on to say that they cannot sell her anything because she is black. It was astounding to read further into this chapter.
  2. I now know that Governmental level people, white people in local communities, and public accommodations were all accustomed to this act of racial segregation. Although Halifax may have not been as bad as other places in Canada, for sure this is heartbreaking to know that it was normal back in the days.

  1. Theme: What overall theme or piece of wisdom might you take away from your reading so far that you might apply to your own life? Explain.

Problems that require hardships and pain to resolve are often the problems that achieve noteworthy, influential and satisfying solutions.

In-Depth Post #5

We’re already in April.

Needless to say, I have been getting some progress done even though I couldn’t meet with my mentor many times due to her personal circumstances.

Thankfully, the uke isn’t a terribly difficult thing to practice. I have been doing a lot of independent work. I found time to practice every single day during spring break! Here is a list of some of the things I have learned/practised on my own.

-Smoothening Chord Transitions, Especially G, D7, Am, C7 transitions (will explain later)

-Explored and learned what hand position is the most comfortable for me (using my thumb)

-Explored different strum patterns and chose one to practice for in-depth night (up-down-up-chuck)

-Learned how to somewhat “chuck”

-Chose a song to perform for in-depth night

-Learned a riff:


(And learned how to read written forms of riffs like the above)


So to summarize all of this, I have been trying to figure out what I should do for in-depth night as the time is near. I wanted to find a song to perform. I explored some songs online and tried to find a song that is not too basic and simple but isn’t too hard either. After days of searching, I settled on a song called “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson. This song primarily uses the chords G, D7, Am, and C7, with D, Bm, Em, and C in the hook of the song (which I need to meet with Hira personally for her to help me with it.) I have been working on the transitions that I need to do for most of the song, so I have a basic outline to work with when I meet with Hira again. Hira suggested that I do not use a pick on the ukulele as I can create a very rough sound with one. She suggested either index finger or thumb, so I practiced around with both and later found myself only using my thumb, which is totally fine (quoting Hira here). There are many strum patterns that fit different songs, but for this specific song, up-down-up-chuck works best. Chucking is when you strum all of the strings and mute them so quickly in one swift motion that it makes a percussion sound. I need help with this. The riff above is an essential part of the song I want to perform. I learned how to read riffs on printed text, and I learned that specific one. Here is a video of me doing it.


As for hats, I couldn’t really meet with Hira because she’s extremely busy and was out of the country, but I tried my best to make out at least one for each.


White hat:

Hira: So we need to create a performance for actual in-depth night. What would you like to do?

Me: Well, I know I enjoy singing. I do not mind doing a ukulele performance with singing accompanied.

Hira: That’s great! I can teach you to do that. It is another skill, singing while playing, so that is what we need to learn from now on. I am busy, so in the meantime, here is a link to strumming patterns and a great self-learning website you can look through.

Me: Thanks! I will look into it.


Red hat:

Me: This is what my riff sounds like so far. It sounds extremely rough to me and I do not like it.

Hira: It sounds great! The reason it sounds rough to you is because the strings on your ukulele rings, but that is a quality issue so we can’t do anything about it.

Me: I am thinking about investing in a better one.

Hira: Good idea! Try Tom Lee, the music store.


Black hat:

Hira: When you’re choosing a song, I don’t want it to be too challenging or have too many chords in it. Because we have limited time together and in-depth night is coming soon, we have to settle on a reasonable song.

Me: Yes, I agree. I will look into a reasonable piece.


Other hats are not very applicable as I am yet to meet with Hira to learn more and have assistance in areas that I identified that I had trouble with. However, as soon as we meet again, I will have so many more things to show for in-depth night!


(I have used a good fraction of my paycheck last night to invest in a slightly better ukulele. I am crossing my fingers that the strings do not ring so much so I can actually chuck the strings instead of making a hideous sound.)





Is Canada a nation, simply a country, or a ‘post national’ state’?

“Is Canada a nation, simply a country, or a ‘post national’ state’?

With respect to both of the articles assigned, I believe that Canada should be considered a nation. Canada, like any other recognized nation in the world, shares many values and traits such as the acceptance of immigration, the efforts made to include minorities, and celebrating multiple cultures in the name of diversity. We have multiple shared values yet we find ourselves questioning our own identity, mainly because of the mind-boggling capacity for diversity we have – a trait that we are arguably most famous for.

Debates as such arise because “Canada’s particular style of nationalism is fluid and not simple to define”, but our nationalism is also the reason why people “often arrive from dysfunctional regions [to Canada]” (Todd, 2016). To obtain healthy nationalism, a nation must “encourage diverse people to cooperate” (Todd, 2016). We are considering the label of a “post-national state” because of the fear of coming off as an oppressing nation that disregards minority standpoints. I believe that this is not the case as it is a fear based on extreme measures, as “condemning nationalism because it can lead to war is like condemning love because it can lead to murder”(Chesterton, unknown). Canadian identity can be influenced by how others perceive them, yet Canadian citizens themselves should have the ultimate decision as to how they are defined. “75 per cent of [Canadian] residents believe there is a “unique Canadian culture.”(Todd, 2016). If the majority of the citizens feel united through a homogeneity, whatever that may be, shouldn’t Canada be considered a nation bound together by that “unique Canadian” culture? Canada is not a simple land mass like a country or the “greatest hotel on earth” (Martel, unknown), but a nation that carries a plethora of cultures within itself to the extent of coming together to become one singular “Canadian” nation with a distinct culture that 75% percent of us feel and believe.





In-Depth Blog post #4

This is so crazy. Week 7 already?

Week 4 for me. Technically. Funny story, a tea shop called me a few days ago asking if I still needed a mentor. I turned them down because I’m doing Ukulele with Hira at the moment, but interesting how late some people reply to things (Maybe I’m just used to Ms. Mulder’s 2 minutes replies)…


Crim check: finally done.

Volunteer form: Will be done by the end of this week.



I have met twice more with Hira after the last blog post. I showed her what I know and can do so far which are the G, A minor, and C chord songs, the most basic chord combination. Hira noticed that my strumming is inconsistent and a little odd, so we decided to start entirely from square one to go over strumming patterns and how to strum (using what finger, what hand position). After a while of plucking and experimenting, we came to the conclusion that using my thumb is the easiest way for me to go. Some strumming patterns I learned are:



Single strums

and a few more.

I didn’t really see the need for learning this in so much detail at first, but Hira sang and played two exact same songs with the same chords with only a difference in strumming pattern. The first time she picked at certain strings and it had a more melancholic vibe as to the energetic strumming made a sad song sound happy. I learned that the ukulele isn’t always just about the sound, the strumming pattern really matters in expressing a song the way I want it to sound.

I also learned that there are different kinds of ukuleles like a soprano and a baritone. They differ in sizes.


How to have a beautiful mind:

How to listen/ask questions:

Me: I do not understand why this is important. This is difficult. Could you explain the usage of strumming? Why can’t I just improvise?

Hira: Well, strumming is important because since ukulele is such a small and simple instrument, it plays a large factor in how the song actually sounds. It also sounds unorganized and quite frankly, bad if you don’t plan it out.

Me: Okay, could you show me an example?

Hira: Sure, I’ll play one song twice with different strumming patterns.

Me: Wow, it really is different. So if I try this I can make songs sound happier or sadder at my desire?

Hira: Exactly! This is important to consider as it can add suspense or emphasis on certain areas. It also helps you find a good song to perform.


DeBono states that if “you listen carefully and attentively you will get more value from listening than talking” (p. 67).

I demonstrated this as I asked questions related to the subject and continued the conversation so I can listen and learn.


I’m having a great time so far! I am thinking about investing in a better ukulele as my current one is practically a toy from amazon…

I’ll be back with more good progress!

Until then,




In-Depth Post #3


It’s been quite a while since in-depth started.

I am so happy to say that I have finally settled on a topic and have secured a mentor.

The whole “tea” thing was a great idea and I was really excited to do it, but unfortunately, I really couldn’t find a mentor. I talked to Ms Mulder about this, and she recommended that I try to learn an instrument and thought I should ask one of her old students, Hira Lalani. I had a ukelele sitting around at home that I don’t really use or know how to play, so I thought that would be a good opportunity to learn how to play the ukelele!

Hira! She is a talons program alumni, who is currently in grade 12. She’s very experienced with music and singing and of course, playing the ukelele. She’s a very passionate and kind person. I got to know her last year in musical theatre and I can say that she is extremely passionate about performing arts and music. Hira has gladly accepted to be my mentor for this year’s in-depth. She’s currently making time to get the crim check-in. She will get it in next week along with the volunteer form required.

We had our first official meeting at lunchtime last Thursday! Since it was an “intro” time, we sat down together and had a great conversation about my goals and plans and what I want to learn in the future. We agreed on:

-Learning about the Ukelele and the history of the instrument

-Learning strumming patterns and technique

-Then progressing into learning basic chords

-Some more complex chords

-Singing while playing

-Work on pick patterns (specific strings)

-Construct and make a final performance for in-depth night!

I am so excited to finally progress and learn to play and perform with the ukelele. This is going to be a blast!

(not the greatest picture but Hira thought it’d be cool to prove that I have actually met with her)


How to have a beautiful mind:

It was rather difficult to incorporate these factors in the first meeting, but I tried my best.

Edward De Bono talks about making and finding connections together [with mentor] and generates interest.

To spark conversation, Hira and I first started talking about in-depth as a whole and as she is already experienced with talons, we talked about my goals and visions and her own in the past. A commonality large as talons was more than enough to find connections and generate the beginning of a good conversation.

I also tried asking what-if questions like

“What if I want to sing while playing the ukelele? Not just playing as it might be a bit boring in the performance?”

Hira then gladly told me that she could teach me how to sing while playing.

I also made my best attempts to explore, to elaborate and to pull interest out of the matter.

Since this is my project, I cannot let my mentor take over the entire project and create a curriculum of a sort for me. Hira started asking me about my goals, so I went on talking about my goals and what I want to achieve by may. That is how we came up with the list above.


I will be meeting with Hira for two lunches a week until the project ends.

I can’t be happier that I’m finally moving along with the rest of the class!

I am looking forward to logging more progress and FINALLY getting to incorporate the beautiful mind factors in properly.