The Importance of Reconciliation I The Effects of our Relationship I DOL 1

Origins: Canada’s True Identity

When you think of Canada, what do you think of? I think of bronze medals, ice, forest, and maple syrup. But beyond the stereotypical things we consider Canadian, I see our country as a respectful, safe, free, open, and neutral place. The words diversity, acceptance, connection, and apologies come to mind. But never would I have paired the origins of Canada with the word “cultural genocide”.

Growing up in a public school, I’ve had opportunities to meet some First Nations people and learn a bit about their ways. I’ve always known that the land we stand on was and is theirs, but I’ve never made the connection or filled in the empty history; failing to ask myself the question of how we got from just First Nations people to the diverse country we are today?

Looking at our Canadian identity and what we stand for, I believe we value truth and respect. Although most of me still believe that, reading the Truth & Reconciliation Commission made me realize that there is so much more to Canada than what meets the eye. The “dark side” of our history is something we don’t often talk about. To “fix” what we did or mend this broken relationship, we must first own up to our mistakes, and to do that, we must be open and truthful.

It is so important to not just show our “proud” moments but be open about our shameful moments too. The “dark” part our history is a part our story and stories need to be told. It is important we own up to what we have done and stop hiding from it. If the horrific parts of our history aren’t shared, how can learn and grow from them? How can we move past them? The fact of the matter is we can’t move forward without looking back, which to me, is one of the main reasons why reconciliation is so important.


Questions: The Long-Term Effects of a Broken Relationship

Big Question:

  • Why is reconciliation important?
  • How does our relationship with the First Nations people affect Canada’s identity, progress, and the people?
  • How does our relationship affect our political, economic, and social decisions currently?

Trying to wrap my head around our origins, actions, identity, and how it all connects, the big question of “why is reconciliation important” led me to more specific questions relating to the effects of our relationship with the First Nation peoples.

Starting out grade 9 TALONS with the talk on Columbus and tackling the big idea of how history is written by the winners, the “discovery” of Canada lands in a similar boat. So much happened in the 150 years of Canada, it is not only important to understand what happened and hear both sides, but see why reconciling this lost relationship is so important. It would be easy to just gloss that part of our history over and live in the “safe, respectful, and open” façade of a country we call Canada, but abandoning reconciliation changes our country’s identity as a whole. The truth of the matter is that our relationship with the First Nations people is still affecting us today, and ignoring this is not going to progress us further.

Looking at how something in the past still affects us today, I wanted to explore current issues and see…

  • how our relationship with the First Nations people affect our political, economic, and social decisions, as well as our progress
  • how this relationship affecting us right now as a country and as a people
  • how this affecting the first nations, the immigrants, the Canadians
  • how our relationship affects our Canadian identity and our values

Research: Slowed “Progression” in “our home and native land”

When I think of our country and of the First Nations people, it is interesting how we often see the First Nations community as an obstacle to “progress” our country in an economic way. Because Canada is so rich in natural resources, one of the ways we are “progressing” our country forward is to export these natural resources. Building pipelines and mining the land is one of the many ways we extract and export. A few particular projects, such as the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Northern Gateway Pipeline, created a lot of controversy and concern.

On the one hand, creating a pipeline will strengthen our economy, but on the other hand, it has the possibility of destroying the very land we are on. Besides the environmentalists, the First Nations people, who have a very strong relationship with nature, have made claims on lands and have “slowed progression” of some of these projects.
An example of this is found in CBC news, where a “Former First Nations chief stakes claim on B.C. mining minister’s property.” Bev Sellars, the former chief of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, made a claim to raise awareness about placer miners. Upset that it was so easy to be certified as a free miner, she wrote “I didn’t have to contact the people of the private property …  I didn’t have to prove that I had any awareness about the environment or the impacts of the industry. I didn’t have to know about the right of the local First Nations people.”

A reason why Bev Sellars is feeling so passionately about raising awareness is because back in 2014, “the Xat’sull First Nation was one of the communities affected by the breach of the tailings pond at the Mount Polley mine.”

David Haslam, the Energy and Mines Ministry spokesperson said that a placer mineral claim is “only for the purpose of conducting exploration activity” and is subject to a number of legal conditions and restrictions. “These restrictions make it extremely unlikely that any of the surface of this placer claim would actually be available for the recorded holder to conduct any form of exploration activity”, said Haslam.

Although this may be true, this doesn’t solve the issue that 1. Many people are unaware of placer mines and the destruction it can cause 2. That the people making the decisions are not listening or taking into full consideration the possible destruction it could cause, and 3. Canada’s relationship with the First Nations people has not progressed to a point where we are both understand each other. In the last part of the article, it states that “Haslam said the province is committed to collaborating with First Nations and works closely with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council so that First Nations’ perspectives on mining can be better understood.” Yes, this is great news, but it just shows us how far we have to go for, in the year 2017, we still don’t have a great understanding between the two groups.

Another rising issue is the construction of the pipelines in Canada. The Northern Gateway pipeline has had a lot of controversy. In a recent article, titled “B.C. government failed to properly consult First Nations on Northern Gateway pipeline, court rules”, it talks about how the First Nations argued how the “province wasn’t living up to its duty to consult with them.” Although there are a lot more details to this current issue, I chose to talk about it for it shows, yet again, how our relationship plays such an important role in progressing our country forward.

If we had a better relationship, then greater understanding can take place. The First Nations would greater understand the politics and economic issues and the Canadian government would greater understand the environmental concerns. We would be working together, instead of trying to find faults in each other.


Conclusion: Can’t Move Forward without Looking Back

Through my research, I have realized how far we have come and how far we still have to go in reconciling and restoring this broken relationship. Only researching two to three current environmental issues, I know I have only touched the surface on what I wanted to know. I still want to answer the big question of “why reconciliation is important” and tackling the question of “how does our relationship with the First Nations people affect Canada’s identity, progress, and the people?” and “how does our relationship affect our political, economic, and social decisions currently?” I am curious to know more about the conflicts we have and seeing if we, as a nation, are actually listening to each other?

I also want to know if reconciliation is possible. With different values, can we come together as one nation? Can we build a relationship based on respect, trust, and truth when so much destruction and hurt has occurred? I am not sure if reconciliation is truly possible but I believe that we can progress to a point where we understand each other, listen to each other, and make decisions together.

I chose to research about current events to show that our relationship with the First Nations people is still relevant and affecting us in the now, which leads me back to the main question of “why is reconciliation important?” To answer a part of that question, it is important because our relationship is causing setbacks and slowing down our “progress”. How can we truly move forward without looking back? I hope to find a greater understanding by digging deeper into these questions, finding personal relevance and meaning in the truth.

Apologies vs Actions

Somehow we are back in Social Studies, and honestly, it felt like we just finished Socials 9 yesterday.  I am particularly excited to begin Socials this year because we are taking the time to learn all about Canada.  Yes, learning about history in Europe can be interesting and is definitely important, but it doesn’t really hit close to home.  Whereas, learning about Canada, the place I actually live, feels very personally relevant.

While quite a heavy topic, residential schools and reconciliation are definitely an interesting way to start off this year’s Social Studies journey.  The topics line up very well with our interest in learning about the “dark side” of Canada.

Background

It is estimated that about 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend residential schools.

Image via CBC News

Myself, OliviaRachael, and Weijin are covering the broad question “What are the key components of reconciliation?”.  Be sure to check out their blogs to read about other topics regarding the process.

Personally, I have decided to look into the following specific question in regards to the reconciliation process:

  • What is the right balance between apologies and actions?

I was really interested in this question as I think it is one of the biggest components in the reconciliation process.  After willingness and trust is made between groups, the actual process of reconciliation begins.  The question is, what exactly needs to happen during this time?  Sure, an apology feels good, but does it really fix anything?  And yeah, it might be nice to be given some extra cash as a way to say “sorry”, but how does that help the emotional trauma?  Through my research, I want to get more insight into which apologies and actions need to take place for reconciliation to be successful.

Research

Apologies

All of the above CBC articles address the point of apologies.  Specifically, Stephen Harper’s official 2008 apology to former students of residential schools.

“The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history.

“Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country,”

Image via The Globe And Mail

Harper’s apology came after many people demanded a sincere, heartfelt apology by a prime minister.  Although Harper and many other officials’ apologies included depth on the issue, it’s hard not to wonder “did they just do this because they had to?”  Controversy and questions like this have come up in regards to apologies with the church.  While some churches, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, provided heartfelt apologies, others did not satisfy the Aboriginal community.  For example, CBC reported that “Pope Benedict XVI expressed his “sorrow” to a delegation from Canada’s Assembly of First Nations for the abuse and “deplorable” treatment that aboriginal students suffered at Roman Catholic Church-run residential schools.”  At the time of this statement, Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations did not accept the words as an apology.  They were more of way to just “close the book”.

This all makes me wonder “how much does an apology really mean?”.  If the Aboriginal people have been pushing for an apology for years and they finally receive one years later, how do we know if the words spoken are truly sincere?  In the Herald News’ “A Selection Of Quotes From Aboriginal Leaders, Residential School Survivors”, Helen Cromarty, a survivor, says

“There are many missing things that I can never ever get back, but having the government apologize and acknowledge the damage that has been done, I feel a little reprieve. I can live with it and I think that’s another step forward. Why not keep going?  The path is there now, follow it.”

I really like this quote because it brings up a good point.  When the government and church apologize for what they have done, there is a slight chance that they may make those who they have hurt feel a little bit better.  Although mostly, it just makes themselves feel better.  I think apologizing is more of a way to take the weight off your own shoulders, thinking that the word “sorry” is going to fix everything.  However, this is untrue.  You need to prove your apology by demonstrating the proper actions to make your apology real.

Actions

But which actions are the right actions?  I found the first two CBC articles quite interesting as they address past attempts of “reconciliation”.  A couple years back, the way that the government and church chose to show apologies was through compensation packages.  These packages provided residential school survivors money in order to repay their bad experiences.  Former students were to receive $10,000 for their first year at school and an additional $3,000 for all the further years they attended.  According to CBC News, “as of Sept. 30, 2013, $1.6 billion had been paid, representing 105,548 cases.”  This compensation package also included a promise for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was officially established in 2008.

Here’s the thing; money is great.  I’m not going to deny that.  However, for the government to use money as their first big attempt to reconcile is ridiculous.  Money is not a real apology for all that Indigenous people have endured.  Money is not going to simply fix the trauma residential school students face.  Money is not going to bring back the childhood of Aboriginal kids who were taken away.  Why could the government and church not have gotten together to initially discuss the mental well-being of former students?  Why go straight to money?  Is it because it’s the easy choice?  What was the point of wasting time distributing cash as a first action when really, it does not help fix the problem?

In the residential school situation, we really need to look to the Aboriginal people to understand what they see as reasonable actions to prove apologies.  It is their values that we need to accommodate.  The TRC Mandate goals include:

(a) Acknowledge Residential School experiences, impacts and consequences;

(b) Provide a holistic, culturally appropriate and safe setting for former students, their families and communities as they come forward to the Commission;

(c) Witness, support, promote and facilitate truth and reconciliation events at both the national and community levels;

(d) Promote awareness and public education of Canadians about the IRS system and its impacts;

(e) Identify sources and create as complete an historical record as possible of the IRS system and legacy. The record shall be preserved and made accessible to the public for future study and use;

Now, these goals are all good and swell, but how much do they mean if not everyone is partaking?  Just one person refusing to demonstrate these respectful practices will stunt the whole reconciliation process.  What the mandate is asking for is reasonable for Canadians to participate in, so why don’t we?  It is important that Canadians work together as a collective to truly make a big impact and fix all the damage done.

Conclusion

Through my findings, I believe that apologies and actions are both necessary in the process of reconciliation between groups.  While we can never really know the level of sincerity of one’s apology, from the perspective of a survivor, it is still nice to hear.  For those who have harmed, it allows them to remove a weight off their shoulders and to forgive themselves.  However, we can forgive, but we should never forget.  An apology is not the end of the issue.  We cannot let ourselves ignore the rest of a situation after a simple “sorry” is said.  We need to prove our apologies by acting on what the TRC mandate asks for.

The one big question I am still asking myself is “How do we secure mutual trust and respect between groups?”  This question is important because in order for reconciliation to initially occur, a trust has to be created between those involved.  If trust isn’t present, then nothing can begin.

So why is any of this important?  I think we need to understand the difference between apologies and actions, and we need to do each of these things appropriately and actively.  When I say “we”, I truly mean “we”.  Progress is a collective process.  As Canadians, we all need to take part in following and respecting the TRC mandate in order to reach true reconciliation.

Scenes in Adventure Learning (Part I): Over, Under, Through

Arch

Aligning our departure from Chin Beach to the 8am low tide, our group of seventeen grade nine and ten students and four adult leaders set out around the rocky bluff at the western edge of the beach, walking in the shadow of towering sandstone cliffs. Groundwater drips down mossy walls and splatters on the slick boulders we navigate to the tune of clattering hiking poles and the gasps of narrowly avoided falls. To the west the bright blue sea is visible through the window of a dramatic granite arch extending from the forest.

One of our volunteer leaders and one of the grade tens ventures under the arch to assess the possibility of avoiding the abrupt headland interrupting our beach route, to no avail. Even with the low tide, the route under the arch runs out into shallow seawater and the threat of being surprised by rogue waves on the exposed point; we will have to go over.

It is the second morning we’ve woken up on the beach, having set out just after lunch from the China Beach parking lot at the eastern end of the Juan de Fuca Trail Saturday afternoon. We have hiked more than twenty kilometres with tents and food and water purification tablets, and as we set out onto the third day of the five-day trek, the most difficult sections of trail are behind us. Having surmounted the endless switchbacks and headlands of the merciless stretch between Bear Beach and Chin, the group is strong and confident, and sets about scaling the rocky archway without a break in collective stride. 

Arch BypassThe first few who make it up onto the bluff deposit their packs and hiking poles on the far side, and return to help others gain the ledge with encouraging words, outstretched hands, and assurances that what looms on the other side is “no worse than we’ve done so far.”

On the other side, the route descends sharply to the boulder-strewn beach over a five foot ledge that offered only an awkward bum-shuffle as a way down. Here, too, bags are shuttled briskly through helping hands; a guide line is set to balance reluctant shufflers;  encouragement and spotters collect on the beach to catch us as we resume the trail on the other side. A waist-height waterfall pours out of the sandstone onto the beach where we wet our faces and cool ourselves before continuing into the morning. A hundred other challenges will arise before the day is out, but no matter. The group is operating with a heightened focus on the goal at hand: to safely reach the end of the trail together.

Less than a kilometre down the rocky beach, we meet the buoys hanging in a tree that signalled the trail ‘s shift inland, and clamour in a rough single file up and over the twisted roots of a sitka spruce hanging over the edge of a creek. For the next three days we will continue in this manner, immersed in the boundary between forest and sea, with everything we need to survive stowed away in brightly coloured packs and the awestruck glances of our teammates.

The Good Ol’ Days – Socials Final Address

It’s been a long and intense year, both in social studies and in many other aspects. We’ve covered a lot. Thinking back, it’s hard  to realize that it was over six months ago that I was stressing out over my first eminent person study and interviewing my idol. Now, we’ve finished off with an anything but linear political exploration. Additionally, we looked back on Canada; What can we learn from our country’s past and what made it what it was?

For my socials final address, I chose to create and present a personality who not only existed in our period of study, but also experienced many of the challenges and saw many of the issues of that time. The following is the historical life presentation I created that my personality, and guest speaker, presented to our class on our final day of socials.  It is the historical life of John O’Callaghan, who lives in Winnepeg, and is visiting our class in the late 1800s after his move from the East Coast. He focuses on his experiences and self-realization as a main theme of topic.

“Oh hello everyone! It’s an honour to be here today. You know, I’ve always wanted to speak to a group like you. It’s amazing to see such a diverse classroom, with so many different identities and backgrounds in one group of young individuals. I hope you realize how special that is. Now you’re probably wondering where I’m from, or why I have an Irish accent if I live in Canada. So let me tell you a bit about myself.

I grew up in Ireland just north of Dublin in the late 1830s. I was born in 1834, a year after Britain officially abolished the trade of slaves. Our family had a potato farm, and we were proud to be Irish. I walked home from school every day with the neighbour’s son, he was about 5 years older than me. He used to tell me about how when he was younger he didn’t have to do any work because they had slaves for that. He was always complaining about the next or newest chore he was heading home to. His father had gotten rid of their slaves when the new law was brought in, because he knew no slaves would be allowed very soon. We came from very different households. My father didn’t believe in slaves. He believed in us doing our own work that we deserved to do. We had chosen to own a farm, it was our duty to maintain it, you couldn’t pay anyone else to do it for you.

Eleven years after I was born, the Great Famine hit Ireland. People got sick and starved everywhere. We were fine for the first few years, but in 1850, my father got sick. There wasn’t enough supplies to get him healthy and there was no where we could take him. He passed away only a few months after the illness hit him. Soon after this, my mother, myself, and my two older brothers moved to Canada. It was the colony with new hope, for the crown, for the Irish, and for our family.

The first little while, we lived in Halifax,  Nova Scotia. We were welcome there, it seemed as though we arrived with our foot already two steps along the path to success in our new life. Then confederation came around. It was a big deal. By that time I was a little older and could actually think for myself. And I didn’t think much of those politicians. You know everyone says you have to agree with someone, but that’s not true. What’s really important is that you agree with yourself. I never much agreed with ol’ Johnny boy my neighbour in Ireland. Nor what his father’s views were. I don’t like to think too much about what happened to my father, because I know he wouldn’t want me spending time on him when there are so many more valuable things to be thought about. He got sick that one time because of a famine, but the slaves all around the world are still getting sick so often because of the conditions in which they live.

I thought it would be different in Canada. When they separated from the U.K. I must admit, a slight excitement passed through me. There were so many possibilities for Canada; you could see the potential, but it wasn’t what it should have been, at least not yet it hasn’t been.

I married and started my own family a few years after confederation. In 1872 we were offered land in the prairies and moved out to start a farm, just like the old days. There was an Irish community there that we became a part of, we had all been sent out there to help ‘colonize’ the west. It was exciting, but I don’t think the government realized they were getting a young man who was willing to crash his savings for transportation to the capital to protest social issues. Good ol’ John A. That man was very focused on his economy, didn’t like to think too much of others. I lived out in Winnepeg, so I got to see what the government was doing to Aboriginals. They were native to the land but had been kicked out by foreigners. It seemed weird to me. The government treated them no differently to how slaves were treated. Although actually, they treated the worse. They were given no control over their own lives.
After all these years, I look back on things, and I’ve realized a lot: about myself, about Canada, and about people. It should never be up to others to choose where you go or what you do. You can do whatever you wish if you only take the first step. I hope in the future that all of you can realize that too, and live a happy life being who you want to be. I hope politicians will be a bit better for you to follow by. I hope they care about things that really matter, like fairness for everyone, and aren’t so focused on the economy. My advice to all of you is, don’t think of taking action or standing up for yourself as a mountain to climb, think of it as a staircase, you only needing to take the first step.”

Well that’s that. My final socials post of the 2014-15 school year. I enjoyed looking at things from a new perspective this year, and seeing new parts of Canada’s history I hadn’t seen before. I look forward to what next year has in store, but for now, so long from the past, and have a good summer and future!

Op-Ed: Police Equality/Police Brutality

unnamed

 

Hello, children. Today Imma teach you about a lil something called police racism, and police brutality. First of all, let’s take a look the political cartoon I drew, as shown above. It portrays an RCMP officer holding a sign saying “Police: here for your freedom and rights”, but the word “rights” has been replaced with the word “whites”. This comic was actually based off a joke my and my friend made. We were discssing Aboriginals and police, and how even today there is still intense racism towards Aboriginals. They are caricatured as drunk, violent, dirty criminals, and a lot of the police treatment they receive reflects that view of them. In some regions, police would take any drunk Aboriginals tehy would find and drive them to the edge of town, forcing them to walk home in freezing winter weather, called “starlight tours” by the locals. This resulted in the death of three men in Saskatoon, and the police showing no remorse.

It’s the things like this that make me really doubt Canada’s sparkling reputation. Sure, we like to paint ourselves as the lily-white friendly neighbors of the Rude Americans, but no one wants to talk about the amount of racism and problems that Canada holds. Police equality? More like police brutality.

Indentification Please… Canadian Political Narratives

We are Canada. Our country is made by the people who reside in it; from the minorities to the majorities we all make Canada what it is. We rise and fall as a nation; fluctuations such as rising unemployment rates or how well the dollar is doing is affected by, and in turn affects, all of us. We are only as strong as the weakest link, and if we all rise to be better, the country can improve as a whole. This is why it is my belief that identity is the most important of the government narratives. It is the quality of life of the people in Canada and the overall success of our citizens that makes Canada ultimately flourish or fail. It is commonly said that when voting, people will choose the party they think will do the least damage to their country; the lesser of four evils. This common conception is the reason I decided to take a little from each party on the idea of identity to try and form a coherent conversion that could make Canada more successful.
First to go, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. The party that wants to keep Canada right where it is. The thing is, if the identity of a country isn’t being updated or refreshed, values can start to deteriorate. So while we may be able to keep what strong holds we have, we may not be able to reach out and make new connections. Part of Harper’s plans for maintaining Canada is keeping our streets and communities safe. This is an important issue because if we can tighten the net around offenders and terrorist organizations, we can feel more secure and build trust as a country. Countries such as Mexico who have crime woven in their identity often are damaged by destructive organized crime and people afraid to speak against offenders. A portion of the crime-fighting action plan is to hold offenders more accountable. This includes measures to clamp down upon child sexual predators, new criteria for offenders traveling outside Canada, and passing the “Combating Terrorism Act”. While the bill C-51 is very controversial, it can help to tighten security and prevent acts of terrorism that shockwaves through everyone in the nation. Isn’t it worth it to prevent great loss of life by simply being digitally monitored? What are people so afraid of that they don’t want the government in their digital world? The government wants to keep helping victims in their recovery, but it is difficult to help an entire country recover from a tragedy that could be prevented by bill C-51.
Next is the Green party. Yes, I know what you’re thinking as you read “Green party” – the tree-huggers that came together to form a political party. When the party of Elizabeth May is labelled “Green” so up front, it can be difficult to look past plans for “Solving the climate crisis” and creating “Green transport”, both strong ideas being laid out by the Greens. Something I never bothered to look into too hard was their plans beyond making Canada greener. An ideal they have, which is critical to the identity of Canada, is foreign relations and giving aid to other countries. It builds on our country when we use what we have to help others less fortunate than us. When the majority of Canada knows where their next meal is coming from and has a warm bed waiting for them at night, it builds strength and unity knowing your country is working to provide these comforts to developing nations. Elizabeth May is working to “Ensure development assistance targets the poorest of the poor; we will commit to combating global poverty by working with the UN to invest in sustainable locally-owned businesses in impoverished regions.” Action plans include giving more and continued support of Africa and stem international plundering of their natural resources. May believes in narrowing the wealth gap between us and the Global South, and this is an important issue for Canada to partake in. When we help heal the world, we make it a better place for ourselves as well as others.
The New Democratic Party, despite their tendency to tax high and spend higher, has good intentions. Thomas Mulcair is all about helping the middle class and small businesses. He, apparently, can relate to being a lowly middle class man in his early days, and wants to strengthen the middle class. The NDP government has several commissions to give a better voice to those who, in the past, have not been able to speak out. These commissions include LGBT, Aboriginals, Women, Youth, Disabled, and Visible Minorities. A common theme throughout the history of Canada is the people in power. When Canada was young, the people in power were generally white men. Minorities such as women and aboriginals were not viewed as equally. Today, although Canada is quite diverse, the minorities of the country still face discrimination, no matter how minor. The disabled or gay individuals in society are not regarded as highly as someone who is not. Through the commissions, the NDP has made it quite clear that they will fight social injustice and give minorities a voice. If people in Canada are not being heard, the country suffers what goodness these individuals could bring. What comfort we could find, if we were able to hear all and be all, and what a better place inclusion of all visible minorities would make Canada.
Last up, the man with the really nice hair. Attack ads on Justin Trudeau commonly bash his lack of experience, and in the opinion of the Conservative party, he’s “just not ready”. Do one have to be old and wrinkled to bring prosperity to a country? The young people of Canada are the ones who will have to deal with the majority of what comes from a party’s term as head of Canada. Why shouldn’t someone of relative youth represent their ideals? A major plan for the Liberals is the Canadian child benefit program. This is “A plan for fairness to give middle class Canadian families more money to help raise their kids.” (Liberal Party of Canada website). Although a lot of Trudeau’s plans for Canada include #fairness, the plan to put money towards Canada’s tomorrow people has a lot of potential for good. If parents can give their child better support by reinforcing their education and spending quality time with their kids, they can have a stronger childhood. A strong foundation means less risk of acting out and carrying risky behaviour into adulthood, resulting in contributions to their country. In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.” If inherently good virtues can be exposed to our youth, great things will happen in Canada.
Fighting crime, giving global support, enforcing social justice, and child benefits. These are all key contributions to identity given by the four major political parties – Conservatives, Greens, NDP, and Liberals. No one can say for sure a definite plan for Canada to prosper endlessly, but if we work together and support each other as a nation, we can improve quality of life from coast to coast. If we don’t have a strong identity, a strong foundation as a nation, we may never be able to progress anywhere. We are Canada, and we still have so much to make better.

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    Our Apologies Canadians have always been good at apologizing. Sorry I stepped on your foot! Sorry for inconveniencing you. With residential schools, it was "sorry for taking you away from your family, forbidding you to speak your language, and beating your culture out of you. Sorry for the years of abuse on you and your family."…
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Canada’s ‘Economic’ Action Plan in Progressive Terms

Identity, economy, government, and geography: which is the most compelling? Personally, I believe that economy is the most compelling political narrative, and I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada represents this narrative best through their political views and ads. Allow me to explain why.

It is very difficult for any country or nation to succeed in identity, government, and geography if the economy is not stable and fair. We live in a world where money can buy you almost anything, and where money is a necessity by many to obtain a proper education and live a healthy life. As a result, I believe that any political party wishing to run in the upcoming election should implement methods to ensure a healthy and growing economy. Having said that, the economy is not always easy to control, however having the understanding that a strong economy is needed to run the country will put me at ease and will allow me to give more trust to the Prime Minister and his/her respective political party.

Speaking of political parties, there are four main politcal parties in Canada: the Liberals, the Conservatives, the New Democrats (NDP), and the Greens. Each party has a vision for what they want a successful Canada to look like, and each has a particular narrative that guides them through their campaigning process. In terms of the economy, I believe that the Liberals are doing the most effective job of expressing this narrative, and this is mainly because of their increased focus on the middle class.

If elected, the Liberal Party of Canada promises to provide increased benefits like tax cuts and child benefits for the middle class. To support their motto, “#fairness”, the Liberals believe in equal opportunity for all Canadians to thrive, and an economy that is balanced and fair. As expressed in their ads, the Liberals have made it clear that they are working to provide families with fair retirement and tuition benefits, aiming to align with the many family values that exist within their homes. What’s more, the Liberals are constantly searching for ways to strengthen Canadian economy and provide more jobs across the country, while ensuring that the environment is not at risk. The Liberals oppose projects like the Northern Gateway Pipeline but support the Keystone XL pipeline. While both provide strong economic benefits and increase the flow natural resources, the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route does not interfere with the environment and aboriginal land, and its approval rate is far higher than the Northern Gateway Pipeline. This makes it a more effective choice.

The Liberal Party of Canada may be the ‘underdogs’ in the 2015 election, but they are working hard to ensure economic justice and to provide Canadians with first class economic benefits that are fair and ethical. In addition, the Liberals are trying to encompass values from parties like the Greens and the Conservatives in order to widen their popularity and to show that they are aware of the needs and wants of many Canadians.

Is “#fairness” a motto you believe in? Who will you vote for? Or will you not vote at all?

 

 

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Canada’s ‘Economic’ Action Plan in Progressive Terms

Identity, economy, government, and geography: which is the most compelling? Personally, I believe that economy is the most compelling political narrative, and I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada represents this narrative best through their political views and ads. Allow me to explain why.

It is very difficult for any country or nation to succeed in identity, government, and geography if the economy is not stable and fair. We live in a world where money can buy you almost anything, and where money is a necessity by many to obtain a proper education and live a healthy life. As a result, I believe that any political party wishing to run in the upcoming election should implement methods to ensure a healthy and growing economy. Having said that, the economy is not always easy to control, however having the understanding that a strong economy is needed to run the country will put me at ease and will allow me to give more trust to the Prime Minister and his/her respective political party.

Speaking of political parties, there are four main politcal parties in Canada: the Liberals, the Conservatives, the New Democrats (NDP), and the Greens. Each party has a vision for what they want a successful Canada to look like, and each has a particular narrative that guides them through their campaigning process. In terms of the economy, I believe that the Liberals are doing the most effective job of expressing this narrative, and this is mainly because of their increased focus on the middle class.

If elected, the Liberal Party of Canada promises to provide increased benefits like tax cuts and child benefits for the middle class. To support their motto, “#fairness”, the Liberals believe in equal opportunity for all Canadians to thrive, and an economy that is balanced and fair. As expressed in their ads, the Liberals have made it clear that they are working to provide families with fair retirement and tuition benefits, aiming to align with the many family values that exist within their homes. What’s more, the Liberals are constantly searching for ways to strengthen Canadian economy and provide more jobs across the country, while ensuring that the environment is not at risk. The Liberals oppose projects like the Northern Gateway Pipeline but support the Keystone XL pipeline. While both provide strong economic benefits and increase the flow natural resources, the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route does not interfere with the environment and aboriginal land, and its approval rate is far higher than the Northern Gateway Pipeline. This makes it a more effective choice.

The Liberal Party of Canada may be the ‘underdogs’ in the 2015 election, but they are working hard to ensure economic justice and to provide Canadians with first class economic benefits that are fair and ethical. In addition, the Liberals are trying to encompass values from parties like the Greens and the Conservatives in order to widen their popularity and to show that they are aware of the needs and wants of many Canadians.

Is “#fairness” a motto you believe in? Who will you vote for? Or will you not vote at all?

 

 

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    Canada… An extraordinary country that is famous for its cold winters, warm poutines, and good samaritans (or so they say). One unit that is observed and studied within the BC Social Studies 10 curriculum is Canadian Confederation, and that is the topic of the article that I have chosen to discuss today. Click here to view the…
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The Deep Depths of Tradition: Aboriginals – Europeans in Canada

Where have we come from? Where are we going? Where are we now?

You may remember these questions from the start of our social studies semester in my blog post, and I’m bringing them back up again because they are, literally, what we have done, what we are doing, and what we are going to do, which is what this post is about. However, this post is specifically focused on learning outcome B2 in the socials studies 10 curriculum: “Evaluate the impact of interactions between Aboriginal peoples and European explorers and settlers in Canada from 1815-1914″. I see this in itself, completely as a situation of the above mentioned questions.

This specific PLO directs the attention of the learner to the past, the “Where have we come from?”, 1815-1914.

Where have we come from?

Upon discussing the topics of Aboriginals in Canada I have gained many new perspectives and angles to the topic. Through class discussions, small mini-conferences, and, sometimes heated, debates with my parents, I have heard many different opinions and sides to some of the issues in the modern world surrounding Aboriginals, and how they came to be. In the beginning I was a bit confused, sometimes ‘drowned’, you could say, in the complexities of Aboriginals in Canada.

Over the course of our recent studies I have found myself intrigued by many different aspects of the topic; How did we get to where we are? Who has the rights? Or, had? Where does the puzzle begin? The topic has seemed to present itself as an extremely deep and complex situation, dealing with rights at the time of “North American discovery”, Canadian Confederation, and the modern day.

I have always been interested in Aboriginal peoples and their culture. In grade 7 I participated in an after school group where we learnt about various cultures and traditions of the local Aboriginal people. Further, in grade 8, our class had a guest presenter come in to teach us about the history of Aboriginals in addition to some stories of residential schools. I find it hard to believe that the events of residential schools actually occurred, and that they occurred in our country, and very recently.

Some points that have come up in my various discussions that I am interested and have been struggling to mull over in my mind, are ‘Who actually had the rights to the land when the Europeans came to Canada?’ The obvious answer to this question is the Aboriginal people, who were currently inhabiting the region, but as someone pointed out, if the existing Aboriginal tribes and groups simply overtook one another using manpower and physical attack, then what prevented from the Europeans from doing the same? I then wonder whether the Europeans’ introduction of a new system atop the existing, and to their position successful, form of title and claim simply outdid themselves and made it more complicated than it needed to be.

If you shoot an arrow and hit a target at the end of a dock once, you’ve succeeded, but if you shoot another arrow, in the same spot, and it knocks the target off the dock into the water, it could be lost forever. No one may ever know who shot the arrow, or why, or where from, or who was there. It may take years to uncover the truth, to get to the bottom of it. The arrow and target may end up somewhere totally unexpected, in situations completely unforeseen, but most of all, it will create confusion. Now this is just one little arrow and target of course, but what if those targets become a currency for all of Canada, then it would be pretty important.

In this metaphor, picture that the the Europeans are the shooter, the first arrow is their military, the second is their law. The lake is the people, the unforeseen situation is modern Canada, and the target is the Aboriginals. I’m not saying that Aboriginals are a currency for Canada, but as I am learning, they are becoming more and more of a factor on not only our economy, but also our society.

Further, I am interested in how the ‘modern’, or more man-made style of living of the Europeans, has meshed with the more natural way of life of the Aboriginals years ago, and how they are still meshing today. When I think about the Aboriginals and their culture, I think or peace, serenity, very natural. How have these characteristics changed, or are they true in the first place, since the collision of cultures long ago?

I am very interested to pursue further into the section of this learning outcome  stating “critique the rationale for treaties and the Indian Act, and evaluate their impact on Aboriginal peoples.  I have gathered some questions I have that I would further like to pursue and try to understand surrounding these issues:

  • What do the Aboriginals want now?
  • Did the Europeans fulfill their constitutional agreements, then and now?
  • How did the Europeans’ views at the time of Confederation shape their future?
  • How are they carrying out this ‘future’?
  • Are there other countries in a similar situation to Canada, or that went through similar events with Aboriginal groups? What happened there?
  • Did the Europeans have the right to physically take over the land inhabited by the Aboriginals?
  • What was the beginning piece of the dominos, or what first caused the complexities and confusion, or began it? Who knocked them over? When? How?
  • Why are there more and more treaties and agreements being negotiated?
  • What is treaties and agreements are being negotiated today?

Some of these are very broad questions that could not be answered in a simple black or white response. Though, in order to fully understand these issues, one must first build a basis of knowledge of the past. I feel that I should learn more about what happened in the law and constitution at the time of Confederation and the Indian Act, and how those agreements have been carried out. In regard to learning about another culture or society, I feel that this would be highly beneficial in order to have something to base our history on and compare it to. However, many of these questions are deep and intertwining puzzles that could take years to solve. In fact, they have, and are still. So, many of them will be difficult for me to solve individually throughout our study, however I can attempt to further understand the sides and background of the history.

In regard to what other areas this research and learning may entail, I think this topic, and PLO, relates to almost, if not all, other areas of the curriculum. The fact that this is the case, indicates a certain importance of this issue in our society, both then and now. Some specific PLOs  that connect very closely to this issue are A1, C1. and B3, to pinpoint a few.

A1, which involves cirtical thinking, comparing, and questioning, are the exact skills and techniques needed to fulfil this outcome, B2. Comparison could be used when analyzing the similarities of another civilization to Canada and our Aboriginal relations. Further, questioning and critical thinking are often required to progress in understanding and knowledge, even though it may feel liek you are moving backwards when coming up with radical ideas or questioning the norm.

On the other hand, C1, and B3, are possibly more debatable outcomes in connection to Aboriginal relations. However, I believe that C1, describing the evolution of ‘responsible’ government in Canada, is a key outcome to critically analyze when digging into the depths of Canadian traditions in relations with Aboriginals. Though it may require questioning, and thinking outside of the norm, I feel that the analysis of what exactly ‘responsible’ government is, is a valuable place to start when learning about the relations of Aboriginals and Europeans. Additionally, I think that B3, evaluating the influence of immigration on Canadian society, is another useful outcome to explore. However, I think we should look at it from a different angle, the angle of the Europeans being the mass immigration on the existing majority, the Aboriginals. This may also be a useful area to explore in a slightly earlier time period, but also during this time period of the impacts of more and more Europeans existing and their influence on how society functions and how the land function changed.

To continue, many of the outcomes discussing resource development and therefore the economy connect completely to Aboriginal relations as to do with land ownership and title. As I mentioned before, virtually all the PLOs connect to B2 and Aboriginal relations in some way as they were the inhabitants of our land before the Europeans arrived, and the results of this merger are still occurring today.

I hope to develop more knowledge through this study that will help me in the modern world in understanding current issues and how we can move forward as a nation together. Many of these twists and turns in the knots of law and relations are challenging to understand, but I hope they can take me closer to the deep depths of traditions, and the lake, to find the target.

PLO B2: Aboriginals and their Relationships

Social Studies 10 mainly encompasses Canadian history. The prescribed learning outcomes for this course cover many topics involving the aboriginals, immigration, and Confederation, while briefly introducing the concepts of Canadian government. As we enter the second half of Socials in TALONS, many new concepts and ideas will be introduced, discussed, questioned, and possibly debated!

Today’s post, however, will focus on one particular idea: PLO B2.

It is expected that students will evaluate the impact of interactions between Aboriginal peoples and European explorers and settlers in Canada from 1815 to 1914

The first document we received from our teacher, Mr. Jackson, was a booklet of the Social Studies 10 prescribed learning outcomes in the beginning of socials. Upon handing it out, he exclaimed, “By the end of this semester, we will do our best to cover as many of these as we can”. As the class dug up many interesting links and articles relating to Canadian history, we collectively began to “check off” these learning outcomes one-by-one. This lead to a mid-term reflection (my most recent social studies post) which discussed the prescribed learning outcomes that I grasped well, and the prescribed learning outcomes that I did not grasp well. The second half of socials opened with a reflection of these reflections (yes, here in TALONS reflection is our middle name) and we collectively agreed on PLO’s that we understand and PLO’s that need to be studied and explored further. This discussion lead Mr. Jackson on a hunt for interesting material that would tighten the loose ends of our social studies PLO’s, and that is how I am here, writing to you about PLO B2.

The reason why I believe PLO B2 is so important is because it explores the Aboriginals a little bit more, which is what I think is an essential aspect of our country’s history. Honestly, where would we be if it weren’t for the Aboriginals? And at the end of the day, they still don’t always receive the recognition they deserve for the land we live on. Something that particularly interested me during our study of PLO B2 was our discussion regarding the reading of Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. As Mr. Jackson read the deep and sorrow words of this novel, I was in shock and terror. My prior knowledge to this topic was that residential schools aimed to remove the “Indian” from the children and disabled them from speaking in their native languages. However, I was unaware of the level of abuse that these children received. The gore, violence, abuse, and horror of the text made me sit at my desk for a good fifteen minutes just thinking and mumbling the words “oh my god” over and over again. It’s just so fascinating to see how the abuse and cruelty towards the Aboriginals lead to a Multiculturalism Policy in Canada. My question is, What Changed? 

In relation to that excerpt of Indian Horse, a line from that novel that was particularly shocking read, “I could never understand how the god they proclaimed was watching over us could turn his head away and ignore such cruelty and suffering.” This is a very powerful sentence. Why? Because I believe it leaves the reader asking many questions and thinking new thoughts. After reading the sentence, my mind was drowning in ideas. God? God was encouraging this? Or was it a “pretend” god to mess with the children’s mind? I personally really don’t understand why the topic of religion needs to be included here. One from a certain religion obviously has different point of views than another from a different religion, therefore it is odd how the leaders of the residential schools actually believed that what they were doing were “their duties” by god. This, quite frankly, made me sick to my stomach. If I could speak to that little boy from the story, I would say this:

“God is not turning his head away at you because that “god” is not the same for you and the leaders. God loves you… He loves and takes care of everyone. He believes in love, and does not tolerate evil. Do not believe a word they say, and know that you are equally important as everyone else in this school. I love you, and this will end soon.”

Personally, I really find the topic of religion to be quite interesting and even controversial. This is why I gained lots of interest about PLO B2 upon reading a little bit of Indian Horse. Any reading can be interesting if you can connect it to your beliefs, values, experiences, and interests.

While PLO B2 can stand on its own as a very interesting topic, it can also be connected to the many other PLO’s of the Social Studies 10 curriculum, and section A is one example. Section A involves developing one’s critical thinking, questioning, research, and presentation skills, and these are applicable in the TALONS socials classroom, whether that be during class discussions or lectures, oral presentations, or even during a reflective document of learning (like this one!) Section A helps learners organize the main ideas of the curriculum in many different forms. For example, last week the class discussed the treaties in Canada, and to organize the ideas of how various treaties across Canada were formed, I took notes on paper using highlighters and bullet points to organize my paper. This made for easy reference when I needed it. In addition, I believe writing notes down during a discussion increases my engagement and participation, therefore widening my knowledge in the subject area (in this case it is PLO B2).

PLO C3 also shares the stage with PLO B2. PLO C3 involves the Metis and Louis Riel, and the class watched a significant chunk of the movie, Riel, to learn a little bit about the history of Louis Riel and Manitoba. The movie covered topics such as the entry of Manitoba into confederation as well as the execution of Thomas Scott. The class also did some reading about the Northwest Rebellions to add more detail to the main ideas that the film covered. Both these PLO’s observe the interactions Aboriginals had with other people. The treaty reading also discusses how the British befriended the Aboriginals in order to fight the French. It’s very odd how they are taken advantage of so frequently, and to this day, the topic of the Aboriginals and their land is somewhat up in the air and simply left untouched.

Every Canadian is in need of knowledge regarding the Aboriginals, and I hope you learned a little bit about PLO B2 and the Aboriginals after reading this post.