Category Archives: History and Policy

Opting for “Sexual Wellbeing for All”: Community & Sex Education in Alberta, 1970s and 2024

Cartoon of a pregnant person nervously listening to a caricature of Premier Danielle Smith, who is saying "Oh, yeah, for sure. Doing that will get you super-pregnant. Your folks probably should have told you that bit if they weren't going to opt in to health class. But the good news is that now you get to say you have "parents' rights"!" The caption reads "Alberta has seen a remarkable reduction in teen pregnancies. The UCP is threatening us with changes to sex ed that risk reversing that 40 year trend.

Karissa Patton and Nancy Janovicek Eric Dyck’s comic lampoons a longstanding dispute on sex education in Canada: comprehensive sex education as crucial to young people’s health, bodily autonomy, and human rights vs. parents’ rights to make decisions about what knowledge and services their children’s access. Since the 1960s, students and youth have been vocal in the debates about curriculum on… Read more »

On Bill 18: Danielle Smith, the Calgary School, and the Politics of Academic Freedom

Photo of a white woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing blue and black in front of a blue background.

Mack Penner On 10 April 2024, the United Conservative Party (UCP) introduced Bill 18, or the Provincial Priorities Act, in order to “support Alberta’s government in pushing back against overreach by the federal government.” If passed, the bill would require “provincial entities” of all kinds to pass any agreements with the federal government through provincial review. The bill fits neatly… Read more »

Thinking Historically about Sexuality, Gender, and the Implications of “Safety”

The title page of Woman and Her Secret Passions (MC 4516 James Waddell family fonds); photo taken at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB).

Gemma Marr “The luxurious habits of civilized life lead to many excesses. Those of gluttony and hard drinking have been sufficiently commented upon. Tracts and newspapers showing the fatal results of intoxication, surround us on all hands. But an evil more destructive than any of these has received, comparatively, but little attention. It is time that the warning was given,… Read more »

75 Years of Human Rights: How to Mark This Year?

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This is the first of a two-part series to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The second post will appear on this site tomorrow. Jennifer Tunnicliffe This year marks an important anniversary for the United Nations. Seventy-five years ago, on December 10, 1948, member states of the newly formed organization adopted the Universal Declaration of… Read more »

Nova Scotia and the Paradox of the Royal Proclamation

That unceded Mi’kmaw Land was occupied by a chief framer of the 1763 Royal Proclamation must give us pause. Although the Proclamation established a set of principles for good relationships with North American nations, on-the-ground military strategies and the use of Indigenous Land as reward for imperial service made it easy to ignore these principles, even by the framers themselves.

Nazis in Canada?!

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Katelyn Arac Over the last two weeks, we have seen a lot of news coverage about the scandal in the House of Commons. The Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, invited 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian, Yaroslav Hunka, to sit as a guest in the parliamentary gallery. Rota stated that Hunka was “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero. And we thank him for… Read more »

“Out of the Frying Pan”: The Economist on peasants and climate change”

Jim Handy As summer winds down I have been slowly catching up on reading avoided while happily engaged elsewhere. This includes back copies of The Economist. As always reading The Economist prompts an appreciation for their insightful reporting on some issues and their tone-deaf, ahistorical and simply wrong accounts on others. The July 1st, 2023 edition had a briefing entitled… Read more »

Should non-Indigenous scholars learn Indigenous languages? What it’s been like learning Kanyen’kéha as a settler historian

Photo of a blonde woman in a green sweater holding three books. The book at the front of the stack is titled "Kanyen'keha Tewatati (Let's Speak Mohawk)."

Elizabeth McKenzie A few weeks back, I was presenting at a conference in Niagara Falls on some of my research that looks at the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s longstanding, continual sovereignty, and the failure of the League of Nations in 1924 to uphold the rights of the traditional governing council in the wake of a Canadian military coup at Six Nations of… Read more »

Making Private Property in Rural Britain and Canada

Robin Ganev Recently the government of Saskatchewan strengthened existing trespassing law to the benefit of farmers and to the detriment of Indigenous people. The new laws took effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Under previous legislation, land owners had an obligation to put up posting if they wanted to limit access to their land. Now it is the responsibility of “trespassers”… Read more »

Visiting and Recognizing the Past: Toronto’s 1919-1920 Smallpox Outbreak

Alt text: A crowd dressed in hats and coats fills a city street. There are banners with the following text: “Stop the slaughter of the innocents! Protest against compulsory vaccination” and “Compulsory vaccination German born – down with compulsion!!”

Sara Wilmshurst A few years ago, on this very site, I published an article about combatting vaccine resistance with historical education. Surely, I thought, if people understood how devastating preventable diseases could be, everyone would be eager to roll up a sleeve and be jabbed. Such is the pain of living through historic times. At least I learned something. Like… Read more »