Indian Boarding School Newspapers: What’s Old is News

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By Sean Graham

In this episode, I amjoined by Jane Griffith, author of Words Have a Past: The English Language, Colonialism, and the Newspapers of Indian Boarding Schools to talk about the significance and legacy of Indian boarding school newspapers. We talk about why schools published newspapers, who the intended audiences were, and the information they did not include. We also discuss the power of language, colonial efforts towards linguicide, and the legacy of how language was policed in residential schools.

Historical Headline of the Week

Victoria Daily Colonist, “Indian Schools Deal out Death,” November 16, 1907.

If you’re experiencing trauma, a National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former residential school students. You can access information on the website or access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-Hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

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10th Annual(?) Year in Review (100 Years Later): And the Winner Is…

By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham

This year, you joined us in offering your two cents on the most important events of 1922

Four rounds. Sixteen events. Hundreds of votes across multiple platforms. And it all comes down to this. We are pleased to announce the result of the Enrico Palazzo Pre-Memorial Championship:

Ottoman Empire Collapses defeats TV Receiver Patented (23-18)

With that win, Ottoman Empire Collapses is crowned the Most Important Event of 1922 and joins the pantheon of past winners (you can see that list at the bottom of the post).

We like to think that it was because of our astute historical analysis and persuasive writing that the Collapse of the Ottoman Empire won this year’s bracket. In reality, however, what we thought likely didn’t factor in at all. In any event, the people have spoken and we agree with this result. If you want go back to see how we got here, you can check out all the entries from this year’s series:

First RoundElite EightFinal Four; Final

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and vote and comment on this year’s bracket. We hope that you enjoyed this year’s installment and we look forward to (hopefully) bringing you the most important events of 1923 next year. Having already taken a peak, there is a lot of great stuff to talk about a year from now. 

All the best during this Holiday Season and Happy New Year.

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10th Annual(?) Year in Review (100 Years Later): Final

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By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham

After three weeks, hundreds of votes, and some excruciatingly tough matchups, it’s time to determine the most important event of 1922. But before we do that, we have some business to attend to from last week’s Final Four.

Ottoman Empire Collapses defeats Japan Launches First Purpose Built Aircraft Carrier (22-13)

Vitamin D Isolated ties TV Receiver Patented (10-10)

For the first time ever, we have a tie! Now, we don’t actually have an established tiebreaker procedure, but not having a clear plan has never stopped us before.

After debating for hours, and creating a tie-breaking procedure so convoluted that even the NHL was impressed by its complexity, we asked Aaron’s 6 year-old to pick the winner. And just like the NHL, the fans are likely to be unhappy with the result.

Editor’s note: I finally got off the plane and made Sean and Aaron actually discuss each event and come up with a way to determine a winner. Ultimately, we decided to go with the total cumulative votes received over the previous two rounds. As a result, TV Receiver Patented is moving on the final.

We submit to you our thoughts, but ultimately the decision is yours. So submit your vote in the poll at the end of the post or add a comment stating which of these events you think deserves to be crowned the most important event of 1922.

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The Importance of the Past – What’s Old is News

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By Sean Graham

For as long as people have been doing history, there have been debates over how to best share the stories of the past. In recent years, this has revolved around discussions over teaching history and ways to better engage people with the history that shapes our daily lives. In this episode, I explore these themes with Trilby Kent, author of The Vanishing Past: Making the Case for the Future of History. We discuss the ways in which history is taught across Canada, the importance of historical knowledge within public life, and ways historians can move beyond the insular discussions that too often define the discipline.

Historical Headline of the Week

Roscoe Oliver, “Biography and Autobiography,” The Maple Leaf, April 23, 1931.

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A woman erased from history: The ghosting of Rae Luckock

Official portrait of Rae Luckock, MPP 1943-45, Ontario Legislative Assembly.

Dean Beeby

This is a story about a famous woman erased.

The ghosting of Toronto’s Rae Luckock (1893-1972) is a case study of the fate of many outspoken women, including feminists. Remembering her is a form of belated justice, a grim reminder of the silencing, even today, of women who threaten the status quo. Continue reading

10th Annual Year in Review (100 Years Later): Final Four

By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham

We’re down to the Final Four. Be sure to cast your vote for which should move on to next Friday’s final

After two rounds of intense voting, we have our Final Four. And, much like in Round One, we are (mostly) in agreement with how the people have thus far voted.

Elite Eight Results

TV Receiver Patented over Nosferatu Released (29-5)

Japan Launches Purpose Built First Aircraft Carrier over Canadian Tire (21-11)

Vitamin D Isolated over First Steel Tape Measure (28-7)

Ottoman Empire Collapses over USSR Founded (20-14)

In this penultimate round, we have two tough matchups. We have a technological innovation against a medical/scientific discovery, and one Empire’s collapse against a purpose-built ship of, at the time, a budding Empire.

We have provided our thoughts on which we think are the most important, but which events make it to the finals is up to you.

You can vote by using the Twitter polls embedded herein, by sending us a DM (@theseangraham and @aaronboyes1), or an email to Voting ends on Monday and the Enrico Palazzo Pre-Memorial Championship will go live next Friday, December 16.

Final Four

Ottoman Empire Collapses


Japan Launches First Purposefully Built Air Craft Carrier

Sean: Plot twist – I actually think the collapse of the Ottoman Empire is the more important of the two in this matchup. I know that goes against everything I have advocated for over the last 10 years (PLANES!), but that just goes to show how significant the Ottoman Empire and its demise was in human history.

A good way to think about the Ottoman’s comes from Alan Mikhail, who has suggested that if we look at history from an eastern rather than western perspective, we would find that the Muslim world was the driving force in global events for centuries. He argues that nations in Western Europe viewed things like colonial expansion as part of their larger struggle against Islam. Within a framework where containing the Ottomans was central, things like the slave trade, Protestant Reformation, and militarization are inextricably linked to the Empire. Mikhail has even gone so far as to argue that the Ottoman Empire made our modern world.

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A Samurai Suit in Fort Smith & A Blanket of Butterflies – What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham 

Samurai armour at the museum in Fort Smith, NWT.

Fort Smith, NWT is probably not where you would expect to find a suit of samurai armour and sword, but at the local museum that’s exactly what you can find. When he first saw it, author Richard Van Camp started to think about all the possibilities of how it got there. The result is A Blanket of Butterflies, which is the first volume of The Spirit of Denendeh. This beautiful new edition, illustrated in full colour for the first time, tells the story of a young Dene boy and his grandmother helping a Japanese man recover his grandfather’s armour. Through the story, Van Camp addresses questions of colonialism, knowledge transmission, and the complicated legacy of Second World War-era mining in the North.

Historical Headline of the Week

“Echoes of the Atomic Age: Cancer Kills Fourteen Aboriginal Uranium Workers,” Calgary Herald, March 14, 1998

To learn more about RIchard’s work, visit him at

You can watch A Village of Widows here.

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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 holding three Kanyen’kéha dictionaries.
Image Credit: Elizabeth McKenzie

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 the Grand River. The paper was one of my first attempts at integrating Kanyen’kéha (Mohawk) into my work as a settler historian. Not only is the title of my paper in both Kanyen’kéha and English, but I also began my presentation with an introduction in the language that paid my respects to both the audience and the land that I was visiting. I hope to do more of this in the future because I believe that it is essential for settlers, and particularly settler scholars, to participate in language revitalization movements. When we talk about reconciliation and restoring our relationships with Indigenous communities, we need to understand Indigenous worldviews and what it means to honour the true spirit and intent of the treaties that were established over the territories we call home, or conduct research in. Learning an Indigenous language is a powerful step towards doing so.

I’ve been learning Kanyen’kéha for a little over a year now. Continue reading

10th Annual Year in Review (100 Years Later): Elite Eight

By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham

Last week we launched our annual Year in Review (100 Years Later), but this time with a bit of a twist: reader voting to determine who moves on. After hundreds of votes on Twitter, Instagram, and through email, we tallied everything up and determined which events have moved on in their quest to be crowned the most important of 1922 and join the elite group of past winners. With one glaring exception, we’re ok with the first round results, which played out like this:

Discoveries Bracket

Vitamin D Isolated defeated King Tut’s Tomb Discovered (105-30)

Steel Tape Measure Invented defeated Good Humor Bar Invented (111-24)

Around the World Bracket

USSR Founded defeated Mussolini Becomes Prime Minister of Italy (108-27)

Ottoman Empire Collapses defeated British Mandate of Palestine Begins (81-39)

Entertainment Bracket

Nosferatu Released defeated First Little Rascals Short Films (69-42)

TV Receiver Patented defeated BBC Founded (72-63)

Potpourri Bracket

Japan Launches First Purposefully built Air Craft Carrier defeated First Mid-Air Collision of Commercial Air-Liners (66-45)

Canadian Tire Founded defeated MLB Monopoly (96-33)

So this week we assess the winners as we see who will make it to the Final Four. Like last week, you can vote via the Twitter polls embedded here, through a comment on the post, or through email at

Discoveries Bracket

2) Steel Tape Measure Invented


4) Vitamin D Isolated

Sean: What is particularly notable about any science-related topic we cover in these brackets – at least as two non-scientists – is that the discovery is frequently just the start of something bigger. In the case of vitamin D, for instance, it led to further experiments on animal fats and UV rays as cures for rickets. Essentially, now that scientists had access to Elmer McCollum’s experiments, they could push the science forward in an effort to find the best possible way for people to get the vitamin D they needed. It serves as a stark reminder that science isn’t static. Knowledge through experimentation continues and we, as lay people, need to be conscious of that.

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Substance Use, Overdose Deaths, & Shared Humanity: What’s Old is News

By Sean Graham

In this episode, I explore the history of substance use disorders and overdose deaths in Canada, which have regularly be presented through a moral lens. By othering those experiencing substance use disorders, policymakers have created an environment where ensuring support is available to users and their families is not a priority. To highlight the importance of approaching this issue with humanity, I am joined by Tara McGuire, author of Holden After and Before: Love Letter for a Son Lost to Overdose. In telling the story of her son, Tara honours him while also sharing their collective story. Poignant and powerful, the book shows how community and compassion are central to addressing the issue.

Historical Headline of the Week

“Death of Dope,” Vancouver Daily Sun, April 28, 1921

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