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journey of a ten through talons


Justin Trudeau: Laurier’s Successor?

Because the formatting in WordPress/Word is completely different, I have attached my comparison in the Google Doc below:


Works Cited:

Federal budget includes $5 billion in new spending on Indigenous affairs

‘Trade is not a hockey game’: Trudeau talks up NAFTA benefits in U.S.


THE GLOBE – EDITORIAL (April 19, 186_)

In the days, weeks, and years I stood at my office window before today, I had never encountered any thoughts that led me to believe that an act of Confederation would bring any kind of joy or respite to our bustling metropolis of Toronto. However, in wake of recent events that have pushed our fractured lands towards unity, I ask for the forgiveness of our Mother Country, and above all, God, when I firmly place my beliefs behind the movement of Confederation and urge my fellow Torontonians, and future Canadians, to do so as well.

Readers of our publication must be well-acquainted with my frequent tirades towards our neighbours, the Catholics and French-Canadians. Their despotic nature and policies have no less run the Province of Canada into the ground every time they take (short-lived) power in the Legislature. Assuredly, Confederation will grant us our deserved majority in the new “House of Commons”, where members will finally be represented in proportion to the population of their riding. No longer will the English-speaking majority support a bill and find it later frozen in political deadlock, with equal membership from Canada West and East struggling in a pitiful fight. In our new system, Canada West will receive at least a dozen more seats than its eastern counterparts, finally giving our leaders and politicians the power necessary to pass laws with ease. This reformative action will be a step towards creating a simpler government that all citizens can understand and influence. The so called ‘politics’ of decision making will be limited to elected representatives carrying out the wishes of their electors.

I have also seen the distrust and fear of our residents towards the bloody and savage battles occurring not 200 miles south of Lake Ontario. America may still be divided and broiled in civil war, but no man in his right mind should mistake that for weakness. Its military could roll over the majority of our land in weeks. Torontonians still remember horrific tales of drunk soldiers ransacking and burning their grandfathers’ business in the War of 1812, leaving nothing but destruction and despair behind. If we are to avoid a repeat of this catastrophe, our only solution is to bind together our colonies, not separate them further. Having a unified government will also centralize tax dollars and economic funds, by which we can protect the resource-rich west and Rupert’s Land from greedy American hands that plan to encroach our God-given territory at any given moment.

One may ask, then, why do we not remain a faithful servant of England and the great power of Her Majesty? They provide us with military support, money from exports, and above all, the comfort of knowing that we are protected by the most powerful nation the Earth has ever seen. I must admit that until a few years ago, I saw this as the best reason to stay as a colony of England. But I have heard first-hand, and I quote directly, that Britons “want the Canadians clearly to understand that England would not be sorry to see them depart from her tomorrow.” Do we really want to be seen as such a disservice to Her Majesty that our relationship with England might deteriorate to the level at which America coldly approaches her? Added together, British North America’s resources are more than enough to sustain its people, and still provide trade barter between other nations. More importantly, the Victorian way of living has become embedded into our current lifestyle, and Confederation would not damage that. Our Mother Country would welcome Confederation with open arms, providing a wonderful thing that can only exist during the parting of ways between a parent and child: that of the promise of support without being overbearing, and the gift of individuality.

Citizens of Toronto, there is no better time than now for the citizens of our land to join hands and form a nation that honours and defends its own interests, while still remaining faithful to the land that discovered and raised us to maturity. I hope that this new cause, once seen to its fullest potential, will be able to bring all of our citizens financial stability without uncertainty, well-being without worry, and above all, freedom without corruption.

Respectfully, and always sincerely,

George Brown






INS Check-In: If the Medium is the Message, than the Content is its Audience!?!??!!?

  1. “Perhaps more fundamentally, McLuhan felt that his upbringing on the prairies provided him with a kind of natural “counter-environment” to the great centers of civilization. He felt he had the advantage that any bright outsider brings with him from the boondocks when he comes to the big city: a freshness of outlook that often enables him to see overall patterns missed by the inhabitants who have been molded by those patterns. It was the advantage that he felt accrued to Canadians in general vis-à-vis the United States and Europe.” (9)

I felt intrigued by the idea that McLuhan suggested – that those on the outside have a better understanding of the inside than those in the inner circle themselves. My first response is that I agree with McLuhan, especially in context of my recent trips to Toronto. Being someone from the West Coast, it was jarring to visit such a vibrant and intimidating city. Since Toronto residents were obviously wrapped up in their own business, it was easy for me to assume the mindset of an observer. Also, I think that for one to experience the same state of detachment from his/her new surroundings, their current environment must be vastly different than their upbringing, as the author suggested by “from the boondocks when he comes to the big city”. For example, if I left a group project in Leadership class because I felt like the environment was not right for me, and then entered another group with similar problems, I wouldn’t be able to fully comment on the new group’s dynamics and progress, because I would be wrapped up in the same vortex of issues that I had in the first group.

At the time of the publication of The Medium and the Messenger, which was 1990, Canadians were dealing with several important issues that would shape the nation for years to come – the Meech Lake Accord, a free trade deal that some saw as moving Canada towards ‘post-nationalism’, Quebec separatism, and tighter laws on social issues such as abortion, sexual assault, and gun control. A certain sense of fate was pervading through Ottawa and its politicians, that a giant hand was pushing these deals to a breaking point. Perhaps what might have resonated with readers at the time was McLuhan’s soft encouragement for citizens to take a deep breath, and evaluate national issues with a sense of detachment. Today, I believe that it has become much easier for Canadians to express their views on places different than their own; commercial travel is cheaper, safer, and more accessible than ever before, and social media provides a platform for residents from opposite sides of the country to interact.

  1. “McLuhan extended the insight to mean that the content of any medium or technology is its user. He would counter the demands of Canadian nationalists for more ‘Canadian content’ on Canadian television, for example, by pointing out that a show such as ‘Bonanza’ became Canadian content the moment it was viewed by Canadians.” (39)

This passage was probably the most eye-opening statement of the first few chapters that I read. McLuhan is essentially stating that when viewers/readers interpret a work, they are basically creating as much of the work as the so-called ‘author’. I disagree with McLuhan, because the creator-viewer-equality outlook places far too much responsibility on the viewer, and gives far too little credit on the actual creator. To suggest that the reader of a book, whose job often consists of reading a text and not doing too much more (unless they are further investigating it for some purpose), is doing as much work as the author of that book, who spent years of research and labour, is not fair at all. I personally believe that the moment a book is published, it is a finished work. Until the book is updated and revised, it is in a stagnant form. In the past, I have found this to be true – for example, when I got to know the author of a biography I loved (Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould), I came to understand that it was his ideas that permeated the book, not my own.

The ‘CanCon’ (or, Canadian content) debate introduced above has been an engaging topic for Canadians in the past 50 years or so. At the time of McLuhan’s career, it was nearly impossible for a Canadian artist to establish a career anywhere other than the United States, and because of that, radio stations were almost exclusively playing American music. Even in the 1990’s, when this book was published, artists from Canada were being overshadowed by American musicians and actors. Today, most critics are not supportive of Cancon, and the younger generation might not even care what country a TV show was made in. In a Huffington Post article, Michael Hennessy, president of the Canadian Media Producers Association, stated that “You like to see bits of Canada reflected but you’ve got to like the show,” he said. “Nobody wants to watch a show just because it’s Canadian.”

  1. “He felt toward the city of Toronto much the same way he felt toward the University of Toronto – it was an irritant that removed any temptation to complacency. In Toronto, McLuhan felt, culture was considered to be ‘basically an unpleasant moral duty.’ The locals made up for their sense of being outside any important intellectual by maintaining a kind of surly dogmatism.” (101)

Wow! I couldn’t have been more provoked by this quote, as having visited Toronto twice in the last year, nothing could be farther from the truth. Speaking from my own experience, Toronto is a very vibrant, progress-oriented city, more so than Vancouver. I constantly saw construction of new buildings, additions to subway lines, and advertised events that marketed Toronto as ‘the place to be’ in Canada. Culture is not only accepted in Toronto, but also advocated for – last month, I visited a Chinatown, Old Downtown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, and Koreatown in the space of two days. In terms of the University of Toronto, I also saw a strong push for continuous improvement on their own advertising banners – for example, there were questions asking, “What if we could detect cancer in 20 minutes?”, or “What if your heartbeat was your password?”, and then stating that the university was searching for answers to the question.

In the 1990’s, Toronto was quickly developing into the cultural metropolis that we call it today. Most Torontonians who read the quote listed above must have been appalled, since advertisers and tourist companies were using Toronto’s multiculturalism and diversity as a selling point. Check out this website below:

Today, Toronto is considered the most multicultural city in the world (according to the BBC), and the University of Toronto is among the best in Canada. This might be a reflection of the current value of many Canadians that it’s important to spread openness to immigrants from other nations.

  1. “A change in the type of medium implies a change in the types of appraisal and hence makes it difficult for one civilization to understand another.” (121)

This quote was very revelatory for me, because it was easy to comprehend, but also made a lot of sense. Since different civilizations had different ways of communicating with each other, what they communicated to each other was different than what another society communicated. This ties back to McLuhan’s most famous quote: “the medium is the message”. When the medium changes (ex. from spoken word to writing), so does the message (there might be a stronger focus on detail over feeling, and writing is more precise and can be passed down easier). Personally, I connected this quote to when I research for primary source evidence. For me, it is inherently harder to interpret primary source evidence, because the mediums of past eras like letters or radio speeches are a completely different form of communication than what I am used to. Letters might have more flowery language than today’s communication, and radio speeches are more dry and direct without visual aids.

The quote would have resonated with Canadians reading the book in the years after it was published, as the World-Wide-Web was entering prominence in the 1990’s. Since technology was making information easier to access, that meant that the information itself might have been changing too. For example, websites such as online encyclopedias would have offered more updated information, which would help Canadians become educated on current events. In today’s society, we are seeing another change in how we communicate with each other – through text messaging, we can send anyone anything, from short, terse prose communicating a deadline, to a long essay. This quote then reveals that as Canadians, our values regarding communication are constantly shifting, as the technology used to transmit thoughts continues to develop.

  1. “‘Canadians are all a very humble bunch […] they take it for granted that everything they do must be second rate. I just blithely assumed that, since nearly everything in the world is second rate at best, there was no reason why we couldn’t do something that was first rate right here.’” (128)

I found this quote particularly interesting because I agree with it so much! From my personal experience, Canadians seem to be less assertive than residents of other countries, such as America. In public, I personally default to saying “sorry”, even when strangers bump into me. This might also be why more aspirational Canadians tend to go to America to start their careers. Because of this, I admire McLuhan’s nationalism. For my 1st Document of Learning, I investigated the effect of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on the Canadian psyche. Canadians made explicit efforts to be more confident, from openly expressing their pride on the streets in Vancouver, to blatantly stating that the country wanted to win the most medals in Vancouver. Even though Canada finished 3rd in the medal ranking, polls still showed the citizens felt a boost of patriotic pride (see my DOL for more information!).

As one can see in the various actions taken by the Canadian government and public in the 1990’s, Canadians were trying to take ownership over defining who they were. This includes the Meech Lake Accord, a free trade deal that some saw as moving Canada towards ‘post-nationalism’, Quebec separatism, and tighter laws on social issues such as abortion, sexual assault, and gun control. Later, in terms of gay marriage rights, Canada was seen by other countries as a pioneer. Today, Canadians are still becoming more passionate about their own issues, such as Murdered/Missing Indigenous Women. Our values have shifted towards having stronger convictions and opinions of what our country should look like.

Thematic statement: It is impossible for one to rely on others to ‘spoon-feed’ their education and learning process; learning is an independent journey that the learner themself must directly initiate.

Marshall McLuhan was always a very passionate learner that initiated his own learning; he read around 35 books a week even when he was a professor at the University of Toronto. Also, when he was obtaining his education, he always took efforts to introduce himself to future mentors and friends, such as F.R. Leavis and Ezra Pound. This hunger for knowledge is what led him to his discovery of the field of communications, which obviously resulted in a long and prosperous career. What I take from this is that if I want to learn and improve in a given area, I cannot wait for teachers to tell me what to do, but take initiative of my own learning and ask them for more specific knowledge that I want to learn. This will not only serve me well in my general education, but also in my future career.


Canada’s Faithful Servant: A Case for John A. Macdonald

Mr. Morris


April 17, 2018

Canada’s Faithful Servant: A Case for Sir John A. Macdonald

Most Canadians possess a spotty knowledge of their founders; a 2015 Ipsos-Reid survey reported that just 28% of respondents knew that Confederation occurred in 1867 (Postmedia). However, citizens have recently started to reconsider historical figures, as the controversial decisions of past governments continue to resurface. Most notably, in 2017, various groups called for the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s name and figure from public institutions. Proponents of the movement stated that Macdonald’s bigoted actions towards Indigenous and Chinese peoples did not merit positive recognition, while those who disagreed believed that Macdonald’s accomplishments as Canada’s ‘Founding Father’ and first Prime Minister outweighed his negative decisions (Jago). Due to his bold economic tariff policy that established Canada as an independent country, and his championship of the highly successful Canadian Pacific Railway project, Macdonald’s name and likeness should stay in the public sphere.

Without Macdonald’s protectionist economic ideas that steered the young nation clear of the United States, Canada would not exist today. The ‘National Policy’ program enacted by Macdonald in 1879 imposed astronomically high tariffs on cross-border trade in hopes of moving Canada towards “true nationhood by giving its citizens reasons to buy and sell from each other” (Gwyn). Tariffs are essentially taxes that importers or exporters must pay for trading their commodities internationally (Brown). Since American manufacturing companies started to compete with Canadian companies for business in the 1870’s, many Canadians expressed concern that lower tariffs would lead to unregulated trade between Canada and the United States, and eventually, political union (Gwyn). Macdonald’s strongly protectionist actions ensured that Canadian citizens received more goods from Canadian manufacturers. This not only improved the economy in terms of employment and profit, but also boosted national morale. Therefore, since Macdonald’s implementation of higher tariffs strengthened Canada’s economic and social conditions at a time of turmoil, public institutions should honour him as someone who placed Canadian interests at the forefront of his policies.

On the contrary, experts in support of Macdonald’s removal from the public sphere claim that his choice to bring in mass numbers of Chinese immigrants to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway was derogatory, because he treated them as commodities that were low-maintenance and cheap (“Chinese Canadian Stories”). However, his choice to bring in Chinese workers was part of a larger vision that believed in the CPR’s potential to positively change Canada by influencing the development of its cities, and also by churning out huge financial benefits. His ambition, was to create a railway that would “build up Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Halifax and Saint John by means of one great Canadian line, carrying as much traffic as possible by the course of trade through our own country” (NLC). He understood that such a gigantic railway – 4700 kilometers long – would link together a geographically, economically, and socially divided country. Because of the CPR, residents no longer needed to stay in one area for their entire life; trains made vacations and province-to-province immigration a possibility for all, which increased diversity in cities. The railway also fulfilled Macdonald’s dream of boosting Toronto, Montreal, and other cities into fully-fledged metropolises through the creation of railway-affiliated hotels, transportation of more tourists, and an increased flow of resources. Economically, the CPR dominated the Canadian transportation sector for nearly half of the 20th century, moving travellers as well as important goods across Canada. Today, thousands of passenger and freight trains still operate on the CPR every year, generating billions of dollars of revenue (“Rail Transportation”). Even 125 years since the CPR’s inception, Canada’s citizens, cities, and economy can still feel the positive effects of Macdonald’s ambitious vision to build a transformative railway.

In 2017, possibly in response to raised awareness about the Canadian government’s role in assimilating Indigenous and Chinese peoples, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario voted to support the motion to remove Sir John A. Macdonald’s name from public schools, while opponents stated that he “helped build a fantastic and prosperous country” (Nasser). When one considers Macdonald’s determined support of the Canadian economy, along with his idealistic ambitions to complete a railway that unified Canada, it becomes clear that he is a historical figure who should remain in the public eye. Ultimately, by raising conversations about who we consider as ‘heroes’, we can discover that although some values change over time, certain universal actions still resonate with us today regardless of morals or circumstance. In that case, without the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald, we would have no common Canadian identity to unify behind, no economic interests to support, and most importantly, no Canada to call home.


Works Cited:

Brown, Robert. “National Policy”. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2006, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

“Chinese Canadian Stories”. Ccs.Library.Ubc.Ca, 2006, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Postmedia. “One In Four Canadians Can’t Name Country’s First Prime Minister: Poll”. National Post, 2015, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Jago, Robert. “Sir John A. Doesn’t Need A School To Be Remembered. He Lives On In Indigenous Pain”. The Globe And Mail, 2017, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Nasser, Shanifa. “Ontario Teachers’ Union Wants Sir John A. Macdonald’s Name Stripped From Public Schools | CBC News”. CBC, 2017, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.

“Rail Transportation.” Transport Canada, 2011,

National Library of Canada. “ARCHIVED – Macdonald-Speeches-House Of Commons, Jan. 17, 1881-First Among Equals”. Nlc-Bnc.Ca, 2001, Accessed 17 Apr 2018.


DOL 2: John A. Macdonald

Inquiry Question: To what extent were John A. Macdonald’s social policies and views on minorities considered progressive or conservative for his time?


Historical Significance:

In the past few years, various activists in the United States have called to remove statues of those who supported slavery and racism to be removed from public areas. Canada, while not being a nation steeped in bondage, has not entirely escaped the conversation either. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Toronto recently passed a resolution that encouraged school boards in Ontario to remove the name of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, from its schools (there are currently around a dozen with Macdonald as its namesake). A teacher stated that Macdonald played a “central role as the architect of, really, what was genocide of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.”[1] Historians widely credit Macdonald, who was Superintendent General of Indian Affairs for ten years and thought of Indigenous people as “savages”[2], with creating the horrific Residential School system. However, was he the sole reason for why Indigenous people and other minorities such as Chinese immigrants and women were heavily marginalized for decades, or were his ideas and policies simply a reflection of the zeitgeist of his time?

Image result for john a macdonald secondary,_SJM,_Horwath_011___Super_Portrait.jpg

This question is an extremely important one to ask right now, not only because of the aforementioned situation currently ongoing in the United States and the fact that we need to reconsider our own ‘founding fathers’ and their ideas and beliefs. More importantly, it is important to distinguish whether Macdonald was actually the “real architect of residential schools”[4], as a Toronto Star article declared, and heavily pushed forward his agenda of Indigenous assimilation against parliamentary opposition. More often than not, the policies from decades ago that we find racist today were simply a reflection of what all (or at least the vast majority) of the people from a specific demographic wanted. Simply scapegoating Macdonald blindly overlooks the fact that he was a man who loved to conform to others to keep himself in power, even saying that a leader must “must yield to the times.”[5] We can also expose other public figures that are supposedly ‘clean’, but also turn out to be heavily prejudiced.


In Queen’s Park, Toronto.


Cause and Consequence:

I researched five major events that helped reveal some wisdom about my inquiry question. They are (in no particular order): Macdonald’s proposed legislation to allow widowed and unmarried women to vote, his role in denying Chinese-Canadians from voting, Macdonald’s proposed legislation to allow some ‘Indians’ to vote, the creation of Residential Schools, and the systematic starvation of Indigenous people in central Canada to make way for the building of the CPR.

First of all, women were still treated as inferior in Canada in the 1870’s, and would continue to be for decades under the law until the famous ‘Persons’ case in the 1920’s. According to author Richard Gwyn, the thought of women voting at the time was unheard of and thought to be a pipe dream even among the most passionate suffragettes. This made Macdonald’s sudden proposed legislation of extending the voting franchise to women in 1885 very shocking in the House of Commons. There is little to suggest that Macdonald had supported women voting before his proposal, even though he said in debate that “… with respect to female suffrage, I can only say that, personally, I am strongly convinced, and every year for many years I have been more strongly convinced, of the justice of giving women otherwise qualified [owning sufficient property, as was then the standard requirement] the suffrage.”[6] As was expected, his idea was shot down. Nearly all Quebec MPs voted against it, as did 3 in 4 of Macdonald’s own party. The issue was not raised again for more than 25 years, and Macdonald’s surprising call for equality is forgotten in comparison to Nellie McClung and the Famous Five’s successful campaigns for women’s voting rights.

Although seemingly unconnected from other events discussed, Macdonald’s proposition that allowed some women to vote occurred at the same time that he was making bigoted claims about Chinese-Canadian immigrants. It was Macdonald that supported bringing Chinese workers to help build the CPR a few years ago, and many Chinese labourers who survived the tortuous conditions settled in various areas of British Columbia. They were heavily discriminated against, and groups such as the Anti-Chinese Association were formed. Therefore, Macdonald’s motion of anyone of Chinese heritage not being allowed to vote was a reflection of the ideas of many racist white Canadians at the time. The legislation passed with majority support from the House of Commons. As a result, racists denigrated Chinese-Canadians even more, and the prejudice helped introduce the Chinese Head Tax in 1885, which commanded Chinese immigrants to pay a sum in order to enter Canada.

In the same encompassing Electoral Franchise Act, Macdonald secured a small piece of progress for Indigenous Canadians at the time. He successfully advocated another seemingly revolutionary piece of legislation: that Indigenous men, who lived on reserve and owned land that had seen more than $150 of personal improvement, should be allowed to vote. This select group of men would not have to give up their ‘Indian’ status to vote, as was previously the case. In context of his other actions conducted at this time, this proposal seemed strange, and some historians believe that Macdonald thought he would have had more votes from the Indigenous people that could now vote. In the prevalent British culture at the time, Indigenous people were seen as ‘half-breeds’ and ‘savages’ who had murdered Canadians such as Thomas Scott in the Red River and Northwest Rebellions. Being the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Macdonald introduced the Residential Schools system with support from other ministers including Hector-Louis Langevin. He also strongly supported denying Indigenous Canadians living in central Canada of food in order to clear them out of the planned CPR line. This resulted in the deaths of thousands, an increase in disease, and migration of groups away from their homes. The Residential Schools also culturally assimilated more than 150,000 Indigenous children for around 100 years, in what is now termed ‘cultural genocide’. Even today, widespread inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians can be directly credited to Macdonald’s acts.

Image result for john a macdonald house of commons


Ethical Judgment:

Macdonald’s assertion that “I had hoped that Canada would have the honour of first placing women in the position she is certain, eventually, after centuries of oppression, to obtain…of completely establishing her equality as a human being and as a member of society with man”[7] can be definitely be seen as progressive for his time. Even granting a select demographic of women that could vote was extremely forward-thinking, especially since Canada could have been one of the first countries to allow women to vote had the legislation passed. Today, all women in Canada are allowed to vote, but Macdonald also spoke of “equality as a human being […] with man”, a thought that resonates with us. The wage gap in Canada between women and men is still at least 15 percent, according to StatsCan.

Image result for canada electoral franchise act

On the subject of Chinese immigrants, Macdonald claimed that “if [the Chinese] came in great numbers and settled on the Pacific coast they might control the vote of that whole Province, and they would send Chinese representative to sit here, who would represent Chinese eccentricities, Chinese immorality […] which are abhorrent to the Aryan race and Aryan principles, on this House.”[8] Even among the rampant racists of the time, Macdonald was the only parliamentarian to use the word ‘Aryan’ to describe British-Canadians, according to history professor Timothy Stanley. These comments would make him more of a radical then, say, his Liberal opposition, but the act still passed with majority support from the House of Commons. Also, it was the Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier who raised the Chinese Head Tax in 1895 to an obscene $500. The tax was abolished decades later, and all citizens of Canada regardless of heritage could vote. From today’s perspective, the comments are not only bigoteds, but also invoke scary connections to Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric against Jews.

Madonald’s actions against Indigenous people weren’t out of place with the views of other cabinet ministers and political figures of the time. His proposal to allow some Indigenous males to vote was an exception, and was revoked by Laurier’s government in 1898. As for Residential Schools, according to Sean Carleton, a historian, “Macdonald dreamed of creating an organized system of federal schools for Indigenous children that could be used to disrupt Indigenous lifeways and control over the land to accelerate successful settler colonialism.”[9] While this was absolutely true, similar schools were also being built in America at the same time. Nicholas Davin, who wrote a report investigating the American schools, wanted to help solve Canada’s “Indian problem”[10]. Hector-Louis Langevin declared that “the fact is if you wish to educate these children you must separate them from their parents during the time that they are being educated. If you leave them in the family they may know how to read and write, but they still remain savages.”[11] Of course, we must admit that Macdonald’s actions directly led to the traumatization and deaths of thousands of Indigenous children. His choice to starve thousands of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan was not only against treaty law, but forced people to leave their homes of hundreds of years. Today, Indigenous Canadians have an unemployment rate more than two times the national average, an incarceration rate ten times the national rate, and a life expectancy almost ten years less than non-Indigenous Canadians.

We also need to consider Macdonald’s statements were not always completely accurate. He was notorious for being a wishy-washy leader, and frequently flipped sides on issues as soon as he saw that he could win more public support from switching. Examples include on ‘responsible government’ and representation by population. Therefore, it is possible that some of his racist statements against Chinese Canadians and Indigenous people might not have fully reflected his own opinions.

Image result for cpr land indigenous


Social Studies Inquiry Process:

The first conclusion I drew from my research is, above all, that many of Macdonald’s actions towards minority groups were racist and even genocidal. Even in a time where his ideas were widely supported, I believe that people in positions of power hold the responsibility to all of their people, especially Macdonald because he was the first leader of a newly created country. To openly support the cleansing of an entire demographic cannot be defended. As the title of a Globe and Mail opinion piece said, “Sir John A. doesn’t need a school to be remembered. He lives on in Indigenous pain.” [12]

Even after such a clear verdict that Macdonald played an instrumental role in creating terrifying living conditions for Indigenous and Chinese people in Canada, we must take a step back and realize that Macdonald – no matter how racist – was a man of his time. This is the second conclusion I drew from my research: actions are inexcusable, but so are the conditions under which they are made. I make a connection from this topic to that of my eminent person, Dmitri Shostakovich. Many call him an anti-Stalinist dissident, but that is simply not true – he openly condemned anti-Soviet composers and writers. He did so to survive, and perhaps that is a little egotistical. However, the fact still remains that speaking out against heavily regimented norms is incredibly difficult and not without intense repercussions. In our time today where a public platform to state all of our opinions is nothing than a click away, we sometimes lose perspective on how hard it was to go against the status quo. John A. Macdonald was a racist, but so were the near-anonymity of white people who lived in Canada. Therefore, in considering his more positive actions as well, in which he was clearly ahead of his time, such as achieving Confederation, and building the CPR, I believe that his name should remain on several schools in Ontario.

Mr. Macdonald could have been a leader that supported equality for all. Hoping for a 19th century leader like that is nothing more than wishful thinking.





[3] I chose to include women as a minority in this investigation because, while women comprise of half the human population, a power imbalance between genders was prevalent in Macdonald’s time, and still is today.







[10] Same as above.

[11] Same as above.





SS Document of Learning: Identity and Canada

  1. Choose an event from Canada’s past or present (social, political, environmental, or economic) and describe / illustrate (show cause and effect) how this event influenced / influences all four of the quadrants. Provide images / primary source evidence where possible.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games influenced Canadians in several different ways. First of all, almost 86% of respondents in a poll conducted by the Association for Canadian Studies right after the Winter Games agreed that “when Canadian athletes win medals at the Olympics I feel a stronger sense of pride in Canada.” This overwhelming response shows that Canadians felt proud to be part of a country that was succeeding in the Olympics. Additionally, it displays the fact that the Winter Olympics helped produce a large amount of Canadian patriotism. As for politics, the Conservative federal government in power reaped heavy public approval (75%) for their $117 million plan to fund Canadian winter athletes. Because of the pressure Canadians placed on the government, Stephen Harper’s cabinet responded with heavier funding and a bigger focus on athletics in their agenda. And although it’s a stretch to say that the Winter Olympics fuelled Harper’s majority win in the federal election the next year, they certainly did help Canadians feel proud of their nation and athletes, and therefore more approving of the leaders who organized and sponsored the Olympics. Economic impacts of the Winter Olympics were also noticeable and positive, and Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut stated that “the Games injected millions into the local economy.” Not only did businesses and tourists bring in over $50 million of tax revenue, but they also created 20,780 new jobs. These occupations could be in the field of construction, snow maintenance, or merchandise. The jobs brought more money into households, and also contributed tax dollars to the government, which could then spend money on infrastructure, job creation, and further funding athletes. Finally, the Winter Olympics affected the local BC environment in a harmful manner. Members of The David Suzuki Foundation that were actually present at the Olympics Games calculated its carbon footprint to be a whopping 328,000 tonnes, with athletes, coaches, and judges creating most of the emissions from their transportation to Vancouver. This shows that the Olympic organizers did not place environmental concerns as a high priority. Additionally, this statistic illustrates that despite a supposedly ‘higher commitment’ to the environment, environmental researchers and scientists made little technological discoveries in order to lower emissions at the Olympics.

  1. Does your event represent a step towards creating and maintaining a coherent Canadian identity, or does it move Canada more clearly in the direction of Trudeau’s discussion of a “postnational” state?

As best seen in the ‘social’ quadrant of Response #1, the 2010 Olympic Winter Games held in Vancouver was one of the most defining moments of the 21st century that helped Canadians create a more unified identity. Brian Williams, the head CTV broadcaster of the Olympics, and perhaps the person in the foremost position to comment on how the two weeks had changed Canadians, stated that “it was as if a river of red and white had swept across our country […] I really believe these games have changed our country.” First of all, the quote reveals that the entire nation bonded during the Olympics, not just Vancouver. More importantly, the quote demonstrates that Canadian citizens consider athletics as one of their most unifying elements. Bringing together athletes of different backgrounds and values into one team gave supporters a simplistic cause to cheer for, and one that was the exact same as their neighbor’s. In a year where an oil spill and traumatic earthquakes dominated international headlines, the Olympics offered Canadians a connection with each other, as well as the comforting thought that a nation impossibly different in terms of geography, diversity, and values could still be one.

  1. In your opinion, is there any value in trying to define a specific Canadian identity, or should we abandon this idea towards a more open and global idea of nationhood? Why?

Although it is important to celebrate our differences, Canadians should find larger value in coming together to create a unified identity. Rather than stimulating arrogance and ignorance, patriotism “is what makes us behave unselfishly, [and is] why we accept election results when we voted for the loser, [and] why we obey laws with which we disagree,” as the author David Hannan writes. A nation is essentially a group of people that belong to it because they believe in the society’s principles. This means that taking pride in what a nation is able to achieve can also help citizens accept its shortcomings. In the examples that Hannan offers, he suggests that members who belong to a nation can accept events and laws that do not support their own personal agenda because they know that those rules and principles can help improve their society as a whole. Subscribing to a nation’s set of beliefs also leads to accountability, where members feel a responsibility for trying to improve their lives and those of others around them. Finally, living in a world with respectful but distinct nations fosters a healthy environment of growth, in which nations can observe what other communities are doing to improve their situation and apply it to their own citizens.





Sourcing a Significant Personal Object



Inquiry question: What is the story behind the paintings of hockey cards/Rogers Centre on my bedroom wall?


  1. Source:
    1. Primary source – although it may seem like a secondary source because my dad was not witnessing Albert Pujols or Henrik Sedin play their sports. However, my inquiry question refers to the paintings of the players, and my dad and I were both direct witnesses of the paintings because we created them.
    2. My dad created the painting, and I helped paint the larger and less detailed sections of the wall.
    3. It was made in the summer of 2008, and the painting can still be found in my bedroom.
  2. Context:
    1. The Summer Olympics in Beijing – possibly helped inspire this painting because of a larger focus of sports in the world.
    2. The success and popularity of the local Vancouver Canucks team. As seen in the graph, the annual revenue of the team was steadily rising.
    3. The success of the baseball player Albert Pujols. He won the MVP award for the second time in his career, and was recognized around the MLB as one of the best active hitters.
    4. I had just visited Toronto for a vacation and witnessed a game at Rogers Centre.
    5. The 2008 baseball season was in full swing, so baseball would have been on my mind nearly every day.
    6. I had just started my hockey card collection.
  3. Description:
    1. First of all, I’m in the painting of Rogers Centre.
    2. Interestingly, the outfield was painted incorrectly. The bleachers in the painting start right behind the wall, but in reality, there is a section behind the wall for the team’s bullpens.rogers14953

    3. Another issue with the painting of Rogers Centre is that the stands are completely full. The average attendance was 29,626 for the season of 2008, and the stadium’s capacity was around 50,000, so the bleachers shouldn’t have been more than half-full.
    4. The scoreboard of the game is from June 8, 2008, when the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-4. I chose that game because it was one of the first games I had watched on TV.
    5. Something that can’t be explained by this source is how I made the painting with my dad, and also our relationship at the time.
  4. Inferences about Perspective:
    1. My dad was the owner of our house and also my father (obviously), so he probably made it so that:
      1. He/I could have a summer project.
      2. He could teach me how to paint.
      3. We could enjoy some quality father/son bonding time.
    2. I was the intended audience, and that was definitely the reason why my dad painted me into the Rogers Centre portrait.
    3. Background/values that influenced the source: we are both baseball fans, we had just visited Toronto, and my dad has a background in art and painting, so he chose to paint the hockey cards and Rogers Centre instead of just printing out a poster.
  1. Inferences about Inquiry Question:
    1. I learn from the painting that: I had a close relationship with my dad at the time, I enjoyed watching sports, I enjoyed collecting hockey cards, and my dad has amazing (!) painting and art skills.
    2. Yes, it does answer my question – the contextual evidence helps describe why we chose to paint the hockey cards and why we painted it at that time.
    3. It does confirm and enhance what I knew about the paintings.
    4. Additional questions: How long did the painting take to make? How was it sketched?




AND SO BEGINS SOCIALS 2.0: Historical Thinking Outline

Understanding how we learn history is rooted in what we learn; therefore, considering evidence as an agent of knowledge is the most crucial historical thinking area to consider in order to achieve a rewarding Socials experience for our class this year. During my Eminent Person Project this year, I often struggled with the fact that the wider public considers Testimony, a supposedly-authorized memoir of Dmitri Shostakovich, to be the most valuable source one can find about him (click here for a wonderful article about the scandal). Although most scholars discredit the book, an outspoken camp supporting the validity of the book still exists, and I often found myself torn between using the supposedly primary source or not. However, once I started to look at more credible primary sources such as government documents, letters, and programmes, I realized that Testimony was not an accurate source of evidence at all. Using tools such as the CRAAP test, and interviewing musicologists and music journalists helped me uncover a realistic and human view of Shostakovich. Also, determining what sources to consult made me a much historian, as I considered the backgrounds and motives of the creators of the sources, and whether there was bias. Using historical evidence directly shapes our opinions of events, because the primary sources we consult affect the inferences we create about the event. By finding credible pieces of evidence, we can paint a more accurate picture of a person/place/time period. In conclusion, as time separates us from historical events every passing moment, we tend to lose perspective on the event, and therefore need to consider and analyze pieces of evidence so that our interpretation of the event is accurate.