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The Gladu Review: A Historical Misunderstanding

Kurt Powell

28 November 2016 in Politics

Our MP Marilyn Gladu believes that the Trudeau's Liberals are waging a war on Canadian history. She supported MP Peter Van Loan's argument that celebrating Canada's 150th birthday is celebrating confederation and it should not emphasize youth, indigenous reconciliation, the environment, inclusion, and diversity. Ya think so eh?

Here is why Gladu and Loan are wrong on this.

History is written from the eyes of the historian, a person in spite of all qualification still has their biases which are inevitably written into their work. No historian can step outside of their personal experience and write an 'objective' history. History will inevitably loaded by biases—it's your job to figure them out. For the past 100 years, western history has only just begun to look at how Historians write history—this field is called historiography. For the most part our history has been "written by the conqueror not the conquered" which leaves out an enormous amount of history yet to be discussed. Just read the Dr. John Lutz and the racist language he uses to write history!

Part of history is Politics. Politics functions on the basis of the political environment and today's political environment has significantly shifted. Specifically on our Nation-to-Nation relationship with First Nations. It has shifted so much in the past year that our political system is acknowledging the colonial genocide that British imperialist (aka "settlers") committed. This is fundamental in understanding our Nation's history —genocide. Yes, Canada has a history of genocide whether you like it or not. Simply acknowledging that genocide was committed in Canada, or what was formally known then as Turtle Island, changes the way we look at history hence the political environment that government stands on.

This brings up my next point. History is not static, it is dynamic. For example, when classified documents are released 50 years later it changes the way we look at politics 50 years ago. Finding out the genocide happened in Canada kinda changes the way to look at things—just a bit.

This "war on history" is actually a very healthy, natural part of history. This happens frequently in the field of history: people change, their views change, new things come-up (genocide), and everything else changes. I appreciate the concern that is raised by Peter and probably shared by many people and the idea that we are watering down our Canadian identity. I think it's the opposite, it's not like there are book burnings of the history of 1812, we are gaining a lot of history that was never talked about before—10,000 years or more of Canada/Turtle island. To address the original point, all of the emphasis youth, indigenous reconciliation, the environment, inclusion, and diversity has been grossly understated by our previous historians. This is an amazing time to be reading history, not a time for woe.