Influences On The Canadian Identity
How is the Canadian identity influenced? FIND OUT HERE!
How is the identity of Canadians influenced by the land and by historical events?
Some questions to consider when answering this essential question include:
- How do Canadians express their identity?
- How have historical events shaped the present Canadian identity?
- How does Canada's role in the global community shape the Canadian identity?
- How have different worldviews shaped our relationship with the land?
- What is the treaty relationship in Canada?
- What were the expectations and benefits of the treaties?
- Why are certain lands set aside in Canada?
How do Canadians express their identity?
Symbols tell the story of a nation. They represent the environment, traditions, and people. Symbols also recall important historical events that played a part in shaping the nation. What do you think represents Canada? Hockey? Maple trees? The R.C.M.P? These are all correct! Canada has many symbols that other countries recognize us by that help to shape our identity as a nation.
In order to understand Canada as a nation you must understand what the land means to Canadians. The land helps define who we are. It influences our art, music, stories, sports and leisure activities. Canada has a wide variety of regions; these are areas of land with unique features such as different climates, landforms, and natural resources.
Indigenous art reflects ideas about identity, community, language and change. Art connects the artist to the audience. Our art represents us, for example many people around the world associate Inuit carvings with Canada. European newcomers also brought their own styles of art to Canada. These artists captured the world around them.
How have historical events shaped the present Canadian identity?
Many events have occurred through history that have had historical significance in Canada. The Royal Proclamation Of 1763 happened because Britain was establishing control over territory it had taken from France. The proclamation was a necessary first step in outlining the new relationship between the British Crown , French Canada and the First Nations who live in those territories. The War of 1812 happened after the American revolution ended in 1783. The United States starting expanding westward which created conflict with the First Nations and threatened British control of Rupert's land. In 1812 the Americans declared war on Britain. The Americans were confident they had had the upper hand. The U.S assumed that residents of Canada would be willing to join them. But that was not the case, Sir Isaac Brock was a capable leader. Brock was careful to create a strong relationship with First Nations allies. Although he was killed the British-First Nations alliance was able to hold out for another two years. The Treaty Of Ghent was signed in 1814 between the U.S and Britain. It restored life in North America to the way it had been before the war. No territory was won or lost but however First Nations were not included in the treaty negotiations. They did unfortunately lose traditional territories in the United States. Confederation and the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1867 the British North American Act (now known as the Constitution Act) established the dominion of Canada. By 1949 Canada consisted on 10 provinces and two territories. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald envisioned connecting Canada from coast to coast. British Columbia had been promised a railway link with the rest of Canada when it joined confederation. A transportation link would help newcomers, supplies, and resources move across the country. It took years of planning before the construction could even begin. Thousands of kilometers of track had to be laid, bridges needed to be built, and a route found through the Rocky Mountains. It took 30 000 workers and more then four years to build 3200 kilometers of track. The last spike was hammered in November 1885. The Creation of Medicare was enacted in 1962 by the government of Saskatchewan, led by Tommy Douglas. The universal helth-care program proved a success. The federal government introduced the Medical Care Act in 1966. Medicare was the first government-funded universal medical insurance plan in North America. Presently the federal government, the provinces and the territories all have key roles in administering the health care system in Canada.
- The war(s) helps to develop strong alliances amongst different groups in Canada
- The Canadian Pacific Railway helped to link Canada together as a unified nation
- The Constitution Act provided Canada with a basis for a stable country and helped develop many aspects of the country that are important for Canada today
- Medicare affects the lives of all Canadians and makes Canada a desirable place to live and reflects our values well
The past historical events have shaped the present Canadian identity by reveling our true nature. These events have shaped the Canadian identity into a loving, unified, desirable, fair, just and strong image.
How does Canada's role in the global community shape the Canadian identity?
Even after Confederation, most Canadians still identified themselves with Britain. Canada's flag and anthem were the same as Britain as well. However after taking part in global conflicts such as the first and second world wars. Canadians began to see themselves as members of Canada; an independent country. Canada's Role In World War One: More than 60 000 Canadians died in the great war. This war was centered in Europe but, involved countries world-wide. In 1914 Canada was still a member of the British Empire. Canada decided to send both soldiers and supplies to Britain. This was the first time the soldiers would fight as a unified Canadian Army. Many First Nations and Métis also joined the forces even though they were not required, by the treaties, to fight. World War One had a tremendous impact on Canada. Many saw or had heard of someone who was wounded or killed. This was also the first time since The War Of 1812 that First Nations and other Canadians had fought side by side. First Nations contributions earned then new respect and allies among non-aboriginal people. The victories of Canadians contributed to a newly found aspect of national pride. Canadians along with the rest of the world began to see Canada as an independent country rather than British subjects. Canada's Role In World War Two: This war began in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party gained power in Germany in 1933. Germany as well as the rest of the world was in a state of economic depression. After multiple invasions and having land taken over between Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. England and France declared war on Germany. When war was declared, the Canadian government decided to help by sending food and manufactured goods to Britain. However Canada quickly started enlisting armed forces. Canada became an industrial nation through its efforts in the Second World War. More than 16 000 planes and 400 ships were built in Canada for the war. There were also increases in agricultural production. The total value of all the goods produced in Canada would amount to about $100 billion today. The War In Afghanistan: On September 11th, 2001 (also known as 9/11) attacks later attributed to Al Qaeda killed 1996 people including 24 Canadians. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) declared that the 9/11 attack was an attack on all NATO members. When Al Qaeda was identified as being responsible the USA began to send military operations to Afghanistan where Al Qaeda was based. In 2001, more than 1500 Canadian armed forces personnel joined in war. In the following years more than 2200 Canadian troops were committed to Afghanistan for rebuilding and security. Canada gained command of NATO forces in Kandahar and in 2007 Canadians began to work with the Afghan army and police to return peace to their country. In 2011 a majority of troops had been removed and by March 2014 our mission was complete. When the last personnel left 158 Canadian soldiers had been killed.
In conclusion our role in the global community shaped and is shaping our identity by:
- bringing us together as a nation
- helping develop an independent country
- AND bringing non-aboriginal and Aboriginal people together
The result? An independent and unified country.
How have different worldveiws shaped our relationships with the land?
Every person views the world around them in a particular way. Worldviews are not "better" or "worse" than others just simply different. Your worldview affects how you act in the world and the decisions you make. The Traditional Indigenous Worldview: reflects a respect for the world that stems from a deep connection with the land. The people have a spiritual, physical, social, and cultural connection with the land. Because the land provides them with everything they need in order to survive the people have a sense of responsibility to care and protect the land the way it has cared for and protected them for many, many years. Elders today use traditional knowledge to teach about how they and their ancestors view the world that they live in. In this knowledge physical and metaphysical relationships are included. This knowledge focuses on skills learned, respect for the resources provided by the land and wisdom inherited from the elders. This knowledge that is gathered through life experiences is used to foster an appreciation of the relationship people have with the world surrounding us. The Traditional Western European Worldview: Focuses greatly on an idea that was foreign to the indigenous peoples when it was introduced: ownership. They wanted to own the land, use and develop its resources, and provide for themselves as well as their families.
These worldviews were very different but when people live in the same environment for many years opinions can be influenced. In todays culture some may support the use of resources but also support respect for the land at the same time. Our relationships with the land have been shaped so that its no longer black and white.
What is the treaty relationship in Canada?
Our geography shapes people's ways of living. Through sacred, lawful, and respectful relationships, First Nations peoples made promises during the treaty process with the crown. These promises were meant to last forever. These promises were agreements between equal nations. This relationship is one on which Canada continues to build upon. First nations oral traditions teach that they have been here since the beginning of time. They developed diverse cultures, systems of education, traditions, languages, and ways of surviving as nations. Before the Europeans Canada wasn't just simply a wide open space. It was a place that had diverse traditions, cultures, languages, societies, spirituality and sovereign nations. Treaty making began when nations tried to find ways to live on the same land and create an ongoing relationship. When First Nations and European newcomers came into contact with one another those people had choices to make about how to deal with the other nations. The Europeans saw treaty making as a way to allow for transfer of land title and land resources but the First Nations did not see it this way. Oral tradition tells us that First Nations referred to sharing the land. But the diversity in worldviews continues to be a challenge in Canada. Today a large amount of information exists about when the treaties were made. Knowing and understanding both worldviews can help to know and understand the whole story and where either side was coming from. We may understand why the treaties were considered sacred. In a pipe-stem ceremony the pipe was is lifted to the creator as a promise to speak the truth and have good intentions. Therefore the discussions held during treaty making were taken very seriously and the promises were meant to last forever. As long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the river flows. Our treaty relationship is and was meant to be a way of two nations living side-by-side, helping each other, and later uniting as a single nation.
What were the expectations and benefits of the treaties?
There were two sides of the Treaty relationship: that of the First Nations and that of the crown. Each side expected different benefits due to their cultural beliefs and worldviews. First Nations: When the treaties were signed First Nations people believed they would allow them to continue their traditional lifestyle of living off the land. They hoped to learn from the newcomers, to live in harmony, and adapt to new ways of life, such as farming. A majority of First Nations did not speak nor understand English. They saw treaties as lasting, living agreements between equal nations. During the negotiations they expected that all spoken promises would be honored through the process. The Crown: had a well-developed understanding of the English language used in the treaty documents. They were familiar with the written word and believed they were making legal contracts with the First Nations. They saw the treaties as a way for the government to obtain access to the land and resources. Some provisions? Education: Most treaties promised to "maintain a school on each reserve" however not all First Nations have a school and in some cases the schools did not offer classes up to grade 12 and students must leave their home in order to graduate. Hunting, Fishing and Farming: Most Canadians treaties identify specific agreements about hunting, fishing, and trapping. Unfortunately the promises of plows, oxen and other farming tools were not always kept. Other times all that was provided was broken or otherwise unusable. Some Unfulfilled aspects of treaties? During the process of treaty making, certain rights and responsibilities were laid out. For example:
- First Nations would be able to maintain ways of life through hunting, fishing and gathering
- annual payments and clothing would be provided by the crown
- schools and teachers would be provided by the crown
- agricultural supplies and equipment would be provided by the crown
Many of these promises were left unfulfilled.
The expectations of treaties were that:
1) All promises made would be honoured by both the First Nations and the crown
2) The two different groups would be able to live in harmony and help each other in specific areas of survival