Friday, May 22, 2009

Hello friends

I'm really going to try to get back into blogging more regularly. I promise. What I'm going to blog regularly about, I don't quite know as of now. But do I ever really have a problem with blogging? Usually at the beginning of my blog, I'll say I have nothing to talk about, and three pages later, you're still reading about my elusive mind, and whatever happens to be lurking within.


I finished a new book tonight. It's of the Dear Canada collection, which is actually written for 12-15 year olds, but which I got into at about that time, and since it's a collection, I've started collected them. Along with the Princess Diaries, and a few Dear America books that I happen to pick up along the way.

This one is about a Ukrainian Internment camp in east Canada during the first World War. Of course you're probably wondering what the exact title of this book is, but I'm pretty sure I've given you enough information to Google it and find it yourself. Plus, I'm too lazy to get up off the couch and go find out the actual title, since I've already put it on my bookshelf.

And of course just now I remember it. 'Prisoners in the Promise Land'. Or something like that.

I've already spoken to both Bennet and Mom about what I'm about to say. There's your random fact of the night.

Reading this Dear Canada collection is really neat, because I get to see into Canada's past. For instance, I never knew that Canada put Ukrainians into internment camps during World War I. And with each book I read of this collection, I generally find out something I didn't know about Canada's history.

I was explaining this to Bennet, and how I thought our own history was fascinating. He said he didn't find it that amazing, but that's because he studied it so much in high school, he's sick of it by now.

And that's when I realized.

We, being the kids in the public school system in Calgary, don't learn about Canada's history.

Allow me to explain a little, because we do learn history, just not the way I would prefer it.

I never took a class called 'history'. I always took 'social studies'. Apparently that's what we do here.

Honestly, the last time I can remember learning about Canada's internal history, was in grade 6 when we learned about the different groups of natives who used to live here. I researched the Algonquin tribe, and since then, it's been my favorite native tribe. Other than that, we jut drew maps of our country and its provinces, territories, oceans, etc. Which is important too, but besides the point.

From there, I proceeded into junior high. There we learned about the different natural resources in the states of the US. We learned of the different countries that used to be a part of the USSR, and their natural resources. We learned the difference between being in the production industry, and the service industry. We learned the different between a communist market, a free market, and something in between. We memorized the different '-stan' countries (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, etc.). I can't remember touching Canada, aside from maybe having to memorize important dates, such as when we became an independent country.

Now, high school. We learned the difference between having liberal beliefs, and conservative beliefs. We learned various political beliefs, and how to recognize whether somebody was liberal, conservative, etc. based on a short paragraph describing their political views. We learned about the two World Wars, and who was fighting on who's side for both of them. We drew maps of yet more countries in Europe, and their capital cities. The most I can recall learning about Canada is that in the first World War, we were forced to join because we were technically still a part of Britain, so when they were in, we were in, no questions asked. World War two was when we officially joined the war by ourselves.

From this, all I gather is that the school makes sure we know the geography of our own country, which is important, and that we know that we were once a territory of Britain, but eventually gained our own independence as a country. Both important.

Now, let me tell you about what I've learned from reading these books.

In order to make the original French colonies grow, King Louis himself would pay for girls to be sent to Canada to start families and actually settle in Canada. When France and Britain were fighting over the territory in Canada, hundreds of Acadians were forced out of their homes, put on ships, sailed over to Europe, and dumped into town were the townspeople (who generally did not look friendly at these newcomers) were expected to take care of them. In England, when orphanages and poor houses were overflowing with children, they would give them a chance to go to Canada, and work as Home Children, helping around the house, which gave many children a chance to have a good life as opposed to spending it in the poor house. Thousands of Chinese were brought to Canada during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, because they desperately needed the workers, and they were known for being very hard workers. Influenza, the Spanish Flu, killed so many people, and many families sent their children out of towns, to relatives' farms to get them away, although nobody really knew how it was caught. The Canadian government put Ukrainians into interment camps during World War I, for seemingly very little reason, and later destroyed all the documents about them. It wasn't even officially acknowledged that those camps happened at all until 2005, and even then it wasn't until 2006 that the government passed a bill that stated never again would anybody be imprisoned in Canada for their race or origin. Canada and the United States have only ever fought one war against each other, and in the war, we burned down their White House. Since then, we have never fought.

I know if I were to look at all the books I've read, I'd remember more.

Now, maybe all of this may no seem that important to you. And maybe it really isn't that crucial. But it does seem a little backwards to me that I'm learning more about Canada's history from children's books than I ever did in school.

I'm not saying that everything we did in social studied was unimportant. But it does make me wonder.

One moment that comes to mind, is when we were learning the various '-stan' countries. We did actually have to memorize the spelling, and location of each country, and we had a test on it.

Yes, geography is very important. But even so. I'm still left wondering why that is apparently a bigger priority of learning the history of our own country.

Anything I saw now will only be a repetition of what I have already stated. So I shall leave the ball in your court now, for you to think what you will.

PS, I need ideas for a new poll. I thought about making it about this topic, but the choices would just be way too many. It's easier for you to comment about your thoughts. While you do that, I shall brainstorm poll ideas.


"I just pictured Arnn sitting cross legged on the floor beside you, eagerly holding the yard while you knit."

1 comment:

tango said...

"Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk, Spirit Lake, Quebec, 1914 | Marsha Skrypuch".
Robyn: This was SUCH a good post.
I want you to know that when I was in school, the same sentiments were voiced. Why don't we learn more about Canada in Canadian schools? It's always been a mystery. I am so proud of you for being pro-active and starting your own collection of Canadian stories.
Always remember that as with humanity in general, every country makes mistakes.
My British grandfather's parents sent him to Canada because he came from a family of boys, and only the eldest inherited their wealth. They had invested in salt, and the salt mines became govenment owned and they lost their fortune. My grandfather was sent to a Barnardo Home in Canada.
You are SO right. Canada has such a wealth of stories. Your own Auntie Char is writing one of them!
As to polls - maybe a poll on "Do you think Canada will "pull off" the Olymics in 2010?