Kina gegoo miiksemgad: Mnidoo Mnising Neebing gah Bizh’ezhiwaybuck Doodemag: Wii-nsastamang Anishinaabeyaadziwin miinwaa doodemwin

Everything is Connected: The Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute (MISHI) 2018 on Doodemag: Exploring Anishinaabe Worldviews Through Clans

By Carolyn Podruchny

Anishinaabe holistic pedagogy and academic interdisciplinarity make a good fit, as we learned during a seven-day summer institute (MISHI) focused on exploring Anishinaabe worldviews through the lens of clans and generations.

Co-sponsored by the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (OCF), an organization devoted to Anishinaabe history and culture, and the History of Indigenous Peoples (HIP) Network, a research cluster embedded within the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, and partnered with, MISHI brought together 32 established and emerging historians, graduate and undergraduate students, administrators, Elders, and knowledge-keepers to explore all things Anishinaabe through site visits, lectures, stories, and activities.

Situated in northern Lake Huron, Manitoulin is the largest fresh-water island in the world and has been home to Indigenous peoples for more than 12,000 years. Today it has six Anishinaabe communities, the residents of which share close relations with First Nations on the north shore of Lake Huron, including Whitefish River, Sagamok, and Serpent River.

Knowledge-keeper Alan Corbiere and Elder Lewis Debassige (both from M’Chigeeng) were the main instructors of the Institute. Another 19 presenters included scholars, artists, and local knowledge-keepers with distinct views of land-based pedagogies, including story-telling, hiking, cooking, and creating art.

We began the institute on the land digging up naturally occurring clay to make pots and sculptures. We gathered at the Mutchmore Café to hear Anong Beam and Laurentian University Professor of Archaeology Alicia Hawkins speak about the ancient village site at Providence Bay, where many of the participants were staying. They focused on the long practice of pottery production at the site, which challenges the interpretation that Anishinaabeg did not have an ancient ceramic practice. Professor Hawkins led the group on a walk to view the ancient village site. Continue reading

Tlatelolco – Massacre in Mexico 50 years on

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By James Cullingham

News from Mexico is often baffling and extremely sad. Bulletins regarding the country’s devastatingly high murder rate, the activities of organized crime and lethal attacks on journalists are common. Such tensions are endemic in the country that in July gave a landslide victory to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, running on an anti-corruption and anti-violence platform. The new government will face severe challenges when sworn in on December 1. As that date approaches, Mexico confronts the 50th anniversary of an event that haunts the country and underscores its persistent political instability.

Memorial stele dedicated to the massacre victims at Tlatelolco. (Photo by Ralf Roletschek, wikimedia commons)

On October 2 1968, troops (a shady group of out of uniform military intelligence operatives and secret police) opened fire at student protesters in the Plaza of the Three Cultures at Tlatelolco in downtown Mexico City. The massacre took place days before the opening of the 1968 Olympics. It was the nadir of months of conflict between protesting students and a government bent on quelling what it regarded as a communist inspired insurrection.  Contemporaneous accounts by media sympathetic to the ruling party put the casualty figure at about 40 persons. That number is lamentably off target. Continue reading

Plains Injustice: Tipi Camps and Settler Responses to Indigenous Presence on the Prairies (Part 1)

This is the first article in a series that places the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp in Regina into historical contexts of tipi camps and settler responses to Indigenous presence on the prairies. You can check out the second article on October 5th and the third on October 12th.

In direct contrast to the opposition to the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp, a tipi sits on display on the Saskatchewan Legislature grounds one year earlier, as part of Canada 150 celebrations.
(Photo by computer_saskboy on Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Part 1: Justice for Our Stolen Children Camp: Legislating Indigenous Space

By Stephanie Danyluk and Katya MacDonald

In the wake of the acquittals of Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier in the winter of 2018, there was a growing settlement of Indigenous protesters on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature, with the movement expanding to Saskatoon as well. These were not isolated actions, but part of connected and similar efforts such as the expansive water protection encampments at Standing Rock and the Parliament Hill tipis set up on July 1, 2017 to emphasize Canada’s legacy of colonialism, which were removed forcibly ahead of Canada 150 celebrations.

The Justice for Our Stolen Children camp on the Saskatchewan legislature grounds has drawn to a close as we finish writing this piece. But this individual camp is also part of a long history of settler responses to tipi camps on the prairies. The members of the 2018 tipi encampments seek concrete action from governments to address the ongoing legacies of colonialism in the legal, foster care, and educational systems. Facing opposition, arrests, and even threats of violence from governments, police, and members of the public, the protesters’ story resembles the stories of Indigenous encounters with colonialism since the first permanent settlers arrived in this region.

But parallel to this history of opposition to Indigenous presence is another set of stories. For several decades, and as recently as Canada Day of 2017, Indigenous people have, ironically, also been asked and invited to bring tipi encampments to display at local public celebrations in Saskatchewan. In this series, we want to explore the irony that some tipi villages are vehemently opposed by settlers, yet simultaneously solicited and celebrated in other contexts. These seemingly opposing histories of settler colonialism have both worked to shape settler assumptions and expectations about Indigenous presence. Continue reading

Out of the Shadows: CAUT Report on Contract Faculty Across Canada

Cover of CAUT "Out of the Shadows" report.

Cover of CAUT “Out of the Shadows” report.

Andrea Eidinger

On the day after Labour Day, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) released its long-awaited report from its first national survey of over 2,600 contract faculty who had taught at least one course in the 2016-2017 school year. The numbers, while unsurprising to many contract faculty, were quite shocking. And yet the release of the report has made barely a ripple. To date, there has only been one news article published on the report, from the Toronto Star.[1] Given the lack of news coverage, I would like to review some of the more significant findings, since they reveal major structural and systemic problems which impact faculty at all levels.

Who Are Our Contract Faculty?

In publications as recent as 2018 it has been stated that a significant number  of sessional instructors were professionals like doctors, lawyers, and engineers who taught the occasional course.[2] However, CAUT’s findings show that the highest numbers of contract faculty can be found in the humanities (21%) and in the social sciences (18%). And contrary to some findings, CAUT found that over 47% of contract faculty held doctoral or “post-doctoral degrees.” Further, these are not individuals who are simply teaching for a couple of years before securing a tenure-track position. 59% of respondents had worked as sessional instructors for over five years, including 25% who had worked for between six and ten years. The majority of contract faculty are, perhaps unsurprisingly, in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

What Kinds of Work Are They Doing?

In general, 70% of contract faculty work on a course by course basis, sometimes across multiple institutions. Depending on the hiring cycles of universities, which can vary significantly, this can mean reapplying for your job between every four months to ten months, and renewal is rarely guaranteed. The number of courses that each contract faculty teaches per year can also vary significantly, although CAUT found that 40% taught more than four courses per academic year.

In many cases this is the equivalent to a full course load for regular faculty. However, this does not translate into significant amounts of money. Approximately 49% of sessional instructors make less than $50,000 per year, despite these heavy course loads. A further 27% of contract faculty make between $50,000 and $80,000 per year. In comparison, Statistics Canada reports that the average starting salary for assistant professors across all fields is $103,400. When we consider that many contract faculty are also expected to publish on a regular basis (67% reported working on peer-reviewed articles and 26% on non-peer reviewed publications), and that 75% report having to do some kind of committee work (60% reporting that this work was unpaid), there is a serious discrepancy here, one that cannot be justified by saying that contract faculty only teach. Continue reading

History Slam 121: Historically Inspired Baby Names, Canadian Mash-Up Edition

By Sean Graham

A couple of years ago, we did an episode talking about the best names you could use if you wanted your kid to have an immediate connection to history. At that point, we were trying to name Aaron Boyes’  daughter and now, a couple years later, our good friend Jeremy Garrett is about to become a father for the first time (in fact today is the due date) so we thought it would be fun to take another stab at naming the newest member of the History Slam team.

To change things up, though, we decided to keep it uniquely Canadian. Using the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designations of historically significant people, we selected 24 people and combined their names (one person for first name and another for middle name) to come up with 12 names that could be used to name a newborn.

In this episode of the History Slam, I present the 12 names to Jeremy and Aaron. We talk about the individuals who inspired these names, why they were designated as historically significant, and the best sounding name combinations.

Continue reading

First World War Postscript: “Fed Up and Tired” in the Months Following the Armistice

Robert Alldritt

Following the end of the First World War, representatives of the Allied and Associated nations agreed that a medal, which would be officially known as the “Interallied Victory Medal,” would be awarded in commemoration of victory over Germany[i].  In all, approximately fourteen million bronze medals suspended by distinctive double-rainbow ribbons symbolizing “calm after a storm” were distributed; their designs varying depending on the country of issue. More than six million Victory Medals were awarded to British soldiers and combatants from its colonies.  Sergeant William A. Alldritt, whose experiences during the war have been written about here and here, was one of the 351,289 recipients from amongst the Canadian Expeditionary Force.[ii]  The British version of the medal that the Canadians received depicts a winged female figure traditionally representative of “victory,” while the reverse is inscribed “The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919.”

The Interallied Victory Medal. (Author’s image – as are all images in this article.)

Why did it state “1919” when the Armistice came into effect on November 11, 1918?  In part, the answer is that the official peace did not come until the Treaty of Versailles was signed midway through 1919.  The later date also correctly recognized that the Armistice did not mean an immediate end of service for many of Canada’s overseas forces.

Continue reading

Recognizing Women Historians’ Expertise: An Interview with the Co-Founders of Women Also Know History

Interview by Marilou Tanguay[1], Florence Prévost-Grégoire[2] and Catherine Larochelle[3] with Emily Prifogle and Karin Wulf, two of the co-founders of Women Also Know History. This interview was originally published in French on

Last June, the historians behind the Twitter account and the hashtag #womenalsoknowhistory launched a website aimed at increasing the dissemination and use of the expertise and publications of women historians. The initiative, conceived as a way of countering the gender bias of historical discipline, is aimed at both history practitioners and journalists wishing to interview experts in the field. Since the launch of their website, almost 3,000 historians have created a profile.

As Quebecois historians working in Canada and Europe, we learned about this initiative through Twitter. The issues surrounding women’s place in academia have preoccupied us for a couple of years. Over the past few months we have begun to more intentionally investigate these questions. At HistoireEngagé we have a series named “Où sont les femmes?” (“Where are the women?”) aimed at addressing links between women, the discipline of history and the narratives it produces. The launch of Women Also Know History was a key moment for us to reflect on these issues.

To learn more about this project, which is still little-known in Quebec and in the French-speaking world, we interviewed two of the co-founders, Emily Prifogle and Karin Wulf, about its beginnings, its impacts and their hopes for how this database will work to eliminate sexist bias in the practice and dissemination of history. Continue reading

You Can Blame Mackenzie King for Ford

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By Adam Coombs

Doug Ford invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to slash the size of Toronto City Council generated fiery responses from both supporters and detractors. Regardless of where one stood on the issue, all commentators were quick to argue that their side was the one protecting democratic norms and practices while their opponents were undermining them.

Premier Ford made this point in the bluntest manner possible: “I was elected,” the Premier explained, “[Justice Edward Beloboba] was appointed.” He later told CTV news that using the Notwithstanding Clause was “about preserving the will of the people, [it] is about preserving democracy.”

Other Progressive Conservative (PC) supporters expanded on Ford’s argument. Political strategist Ginny Roth told CBC News that Ford “was explicitly elected to make change and I think a key part of his mandate is to do politics differently.”

Despite claiming that the Premier has a mandate for change, it is unclear how that mandate was conferred. His PC Party won 40% of the popular vote and with only 58% of eligible voters casting their ballot, only a little under a quarter of Ontario voters elected Ford.

Importantly though, under the First Past the Post (FPTP) system the popular vote is irrelevant in determining who holds power. What matters is which party leader can command the confidence of the legislature. Having won 76 seats compared to the combined 48 seats of the NDP, Liberals and Greens, the PC Party and Ford secured a strong majority at Queen’s Park.

Yet in justifying their actions Ontario conservatives appealed not to their dominant position in the provincial parliament, their actual legal position, but rather that they were granted a mandate to speak for the people of Ontario, which is a much more objectionable statement.

Making such arguments, however, is not new in Canadian politics. Rather, to understand the roots of this rhetorical strategy we have to go back to Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and his attacks on Conservative Prime Minister Sir Arthur Meighen in 1920-21.

Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King voting in the plebiscite on the introduction of conscription for overseas military service (Wikimedia Commons)

Prior to the 1921 Federal Election Campaign, which pitted Conservative Prime Minister Meighen against newly chosen Liberal Leader Mackenzie King, the idea of a democratic mandate was alien to Canadian politics. Continue reading

Digital History in the Classroom (For Beginners!)

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Samantha Cutrara

Digital History (or Digital Humanities and/or Social Sciences, more generally) has exciting possibilities for knowledge mobilization, community engagement, and access to primary documents and secondary analysis. I see Digital History (Humanities/Social Sciences) as being more public-facing than traditional engagements in the discipline(s) because of how the emphasis on the digital forces a more networked approach to both the process and product of historical work. Digital history, or #DH, can then be thought of being part of, and developing, a greater conversation between history/historians and the public because digital tools and technologies invite more space for collaboration. As a history education strategist, I find this especially exciting for classroom practice.

York University Library

I recognize, however, that one may have felt like one needed to know programming or code to engage in #DH. But the ubiquitous presence and use of today’s digital technologies means that we can now engage in #DH without needing to know how to program. One could simply “do” DHSS by focusing on the meaning making potential of digital tools and technologies.

Many of us already do this without calling it #DH. When we ask our students to search for a website or an article, to map something on Google, to collaborate on an online document, to participate in a discussion on Facebook – these are all practices that invite students to find, collect, organize, and/or analyze using digital technologies. What makes practices explicitly #DH practices is when we’re thoughtfully and explicitly using these technologies to develop skills of critical thinking, doing, and communicating. This means that students are not just creating digital products but engaging in the process of digital development, argumentation, and presentation. Through the explicit combination of digital tools and technologies with course content, students are experientially learn how to develop and communicate their learning of history with historical evidence and for a wider audience. Continue reading

A Historian’s Reflections on the 2018 CUPE 3903 Strike

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Picket line at York University’s Keele Campus, March 2018. Photo by *Youngjin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Alban Bargain-Villéger

[T]here is a peculiar illusion incidental to all knowledge acquired in the way of education: the illusion of finality. —R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (1946).

As a rule, historians do not often question their role as historical agents. While some simply do not think about it, others seem rather reluctant to imagine themselves as objects of investigation and source-producers for future generations of researchers. As (usually avowed) bookworms, we tend to take our bird’s-eye view on the past for granted and are used to distancing ourselves from our topic. Granted, some prominent scholars, like Marc Bloch and, on the Canadian scene, Bryan Palmer, have engaged in historical reflections on a past they themselves inhabited, but these do not include conjectures on the “future perfect” dimension of their present, namely how it might be interpreted by historians in the future.[1] In that regard, the latest strike by York University’s CUPE 3903  has given me fodder for thought. The dispute, which ended on July 25, 2018, was a three-month affair for me, as contract faculty members (aka “sessionals”), of which I am one, went back to work on June 15.[2] During the time spent on the Glendon picket line as a rank-and-file member, I witnessed countless discussions, debates, and observed several changes and continuities with the previous labour disruptions I was involved in, namely the 2008-9 and 2015 strikes. The notes I took during those three months inspired me to write this somewhat unusual, experimental post, which reflects on the dizzying amount of sources that can be produced in a short amount of time.


In our line of work, historiography is often treated as a necessary evil, a distant arena that not only enables us to locate our own work within the discipline, but also implies a certain distance from the topics under study. Simply put, historiography deals with the ways in which historians have conceived of the past, and what sources and methodologies they have used in order to make sense of it. It also investigates the various trends, schools of thought, and debates that have marked the development of history even before it became an academic discipline in its own right. Essentially, historiography straddles the realms of historical investigation and philosophy. Although I have taught historiography for the last three years at York University’s Glendon College, it only recently occurred to me that historians – and historiographers in particular – tend to adopt a totalizing view of the past, often taking an “end-of-history,” Fukuyamesque approach to their subjects. However, Collingwood’s “illusion of finality” quoted in the epigraph to this post does not systematically stem from a temptation or (sub)conscious will to see one’s field or discipline as complete and unalterable. Faced with countless sources and multiple possible approaches to any given topic, researchers have no choice but to resort to heuristic techniques and to pretend that they fully master their subject. Whereas humility is a prerequisite to any intellectual endeavour, timidity can prove as damning. Therefore, I believe that historians should not refrain from getting out of their comfort zone and embrace the present as the antechamber of history. Continue reading