Category Archives: Does History Matter?

Harvard and Slavery: The Moral Responsibility of History

By Andrew Nurse On April 26, 2022, Harvard University announced “that it will spend $100 million” as part of a plan to address what it’s president called “profoundly immoral” practices in the university’s past.[1] At issue is Harvard’s relationship to slavery, racism and colonialism. Harvard is not the first university to grapple with a deeply problematic past, but its response… Read more »

Fictions of a Fascist France

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By Paul Cohen One of the most striking things about Donald Trump’s presidency is just how surprised Americans were that it happened at all.  On the very eve of the election in November 2016, despite polls’ margins of error showing him within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s victory was unthinkable, a scenario too fantastic to contemplate (reportedly, even by… Read more »

The State of the Site: Digging into ActiveHistory.ca Statistics

With the start of the new year,[1] the editorial collective at ActiveHistory.ca thought it would be useful to share some data about the performance of the website, along with some brief analysis of what this data tells us about how it is being used by readers. At the end of this piece, we invite readers to chime in and tell… Read more »

The Shifting Boundaries of Colonial Land Taking: The Continuity of Settler Land Theft and Indigenous Resistance in Kahnawà:ke  

photo of an protest camp

Daniel Rück Non-Indigenous people who encounter Indigenous #LandBack protests are often surprised or taken aback. They may be angry about being inconvenienced on their commute and may even resort to racist stereotypes to explain what is happening. They might ask themselves questions like: Why are Indigenous people so upset? Why are they choosing to occupy land or block a road… Read more »

It is Time to End the History Wars

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By Ian Milligan and Thomas Peace We’ve been fighting about the same things for a quarter century. It’s time to call it quits. Earlier this week, The Dorchester Review published an open letter under an inflammatory (and arguably misleading, as it did not appear on the version signatories signed) headline of “Historians Rally v. ‘Genocide Myth;” it also apparently appeared… Read more »

Calls to Action 71 to 76: Missing Children and Burial Information

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Today, the editors of Active History have decided to paint the site orange to honour the thousands upon thousands of Indigenous children brutalized and killed in the Indian Residential School system—including those whose small bodies were recently located in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, the former Marieval Indian Residential School, the former St. Eugene’s Mission School,… Read more »

Take a Look Inside: What did we learn from a prison riot fifty years ago?

On April 15, 1971, rioting prisoners in Canada’s oldest prison invited reporters to take a look inside. They wanted the entire world to come to the infamous Kingston Penitentiary to see how the forgotten were treated and how they lived. Fifty years later and after five decades of government policy shifts and bureaucratic fumbling on penal reform, we are still waiting to take a look inside.

Did Anyone Not See This Coming? Erin O’Toole and the Historical Politics of Public Memory

Erin O’Toole, the newly minted leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, has some positive things to say about residential schools. At least he did, when he thought he was speaking to a closed shop of otherwise conservative leaning students. O’Toole – or, someone in his office – very quickly tried to walk his comments back … sort of.[1]  What… Read more »

K’jipuktuk to Halifax and back: Decolonization in the Council Chamber

What the committee’s work does, the report suggests, is carefully and responsibly “harmonize commemoration with publicly-held values, and in particular to resolve situations in which sites of commemoration may have become actively offensive to those values.”

Remembering Emma Goldman: Pandemics, Prisons, and Mutual Aid

Franca Iacovetta & Cynthia Wright When the pandemic came, Emma Goldman was in a state penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri. Goldman and her life-long comrade and fellow revolutionary anarchist, Alexander Berkman, had been arrested under the Selective Service Act of 1917 for conspiring to oppose the draft. Goldman had been reaching audiences of thousands all over the US with her… Read more »