Category Archives: Does History Matter?

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

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 »

So long Dundas: From Colonization to Decolonization Road?

These are just two stories of many. With a roadway that stretches across all of eastern Canada, an opportunity presents itself not just to commemorate one life or history, but rather to use the road – Highway Two, which started out in Ontario as Dundas Street – as a heritage tool to substantially change how our national, region, and local histories are remembered. Renaming Dundas Street presents a positive opportunity to make a change.

If you’re not doing history to make change, what the f— are you doing it for?

By Samantha Cutrara How to you teach racism in your Canadian history classroom? Do you teach racism in your Canadian history classroom? Do you mention racist actions or events and then move on to the next part of the chronology? Do you acknowledge that there were ethnically and culturally diverse peoples in the Canadian past but fail to introduce any… Read more »

John E. “Jack” Hammell and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame

By Matthew Corbeil In January 2007, Canadian mining giant Teck Cominco (since rebranded Teck Resources) donated $10 million to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in what was “the largest corporate gift in the museum’s history.” The donation went toward the creation of three new earth science galleries, allowing the museum to double the number of minerals and gems it could… Read more »

The Generation of 2020: Coming of Age in Covid-Time

Cynthia Comacchio Although not always the most important identity marker, age has always mattered in the making of roles, rights, status and power structures. It signifies as much as, and occasionally more than, class, gender, race, sexuality, heritage. Only partly a biological/chronological category, it is also socially-constructed and consequently historical, varying in time and place. The time-shifting meanings of age… Read more »

How do we teach history after this? Thoughts from the “Pandemic Pedagogy” series

By Samantha Cutrara I went into self-isolation about a week before many others. Because I had come into contact with family traveling abroad, I worked from home while the university and college I work for continued to prepare for what felt like an inevitability after the WHO’s declaration. Being by myself that first week exacerbated the sense of shock that… Read more »