Category Archives: History in the News

From ME to WE to the CYC – Liberals and the Controversial History of Youth Volunteerism

Kevin Brushett On June 25, 2020 Justin Trudeau announced the creation of Canada Student Service Grant, a program that encouraged young Canadians to volunteer in their communities while paying them up to $5000 to do so. Within days however, Trudeau’s feel good announcement began to turn sour as questions arose over the program’s links to the ME to WE charity,… Read more »

That Other Time the Toronto Police Tried to Solve the Race Problem: The Ethnic Relations Unit, 1970s-1980s

David M. K. Sheinin In the early 1970s, to gain insights into the Italian immigrant community in Toronto, the police set up an Ethnic Relations Unit. In 1975 the unit created a “Black Section” followed by Jewish, Southeast Asian, and other sections. The experiment in building bridges to ethnic communities failed because this solution to growing police-community tensions reinforced rather… Read more »

From Crisis to Clean-Up

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By Shirley Tillotson Imagine a 500% increase in business and a steady loss of your best staff, snaffled up by competing firms who double their salaries. It’s 1944. You’re the federal income tax department. Tens of thousands of unassessed returns pile up. By 1949, the backlog reaches 1.9 million. The Canadian Emergency Relief Program (CERB) is today’s explosively expanded program…. Read more »

Missing Pieces: The Romanticisation of the RCMP in CBC’s “When Calls the Heart”

By Erin Isaac With rising awareness and concern about police violence against people of colour in Canada and the United States, and following several recent instances of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) violence against Indigenous persons — including the killing Rodney Levi of the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick, the RCMP attack on Chief Adam Allan of the Athabasca… Read more »

Miners’ Houses: Lawren Harris in Glace Bay

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David Frank I think I first learned about this remarkable painting when my friend Allen Seager sent me a postcard from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Eventually I used it as the cover illustration for my biography of the union leader J.B. McLachlan. More recently, it was featured in an exhibition at the AGO and in a documentary film. It… Read more »

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 »

Defund the police

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Tamara Gene Myers Amidst the call to “Defund the police,” it bears thinking about removing police from our schools as well. “Defund the police” has become the rallying cry of anti-Black racism protests following the public murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Relentless police violence has generated heated discussion about how decades of policies intended to “reform”… 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.

Epidemics and Racism: Honolulu’s Bubonic Plague and the Big Fire, 1899-1900

Yukari Takai More than a century before the global outbreak of Covid-19, another deadly disease struck Honolulu, one that ignited the tragic unfolding of many stories about public health, urban fires and social inequalities, particularly racism. The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, hit Honolulu’s crowded and throbbing Chinatown in December 1899 when it took the life of… Read more »

12 Black Scholars on the Black Lives Matter Movement and Canada

As millions around the world take to the streets to defend Black lives, decry racist police violence and structural racism, and articulate visions for a radically different future, a number of Black scholars in Canada have engaged with public audiences to help contextualize this moment and lay out how racism is very much a Canadian problem as well. The below… Read more »