Two New Active History Posts

30 06 2010

Japanese Canadian Fishing Boat Being Seized, 9 December 1941

The blog recently carried two posts that caught my eye. The earlier post is by Laura Madakoro and deals with government apologies for historical injustices such as Japanese internment and Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland. It is a fine piece of work on comparative social memory that is also rather personal. Ms. Madakoro writes: “My grandfather was a fisherman in Tofino (on the west coast of Vancouver Island) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. His boat was taken by the Canadian government. My father, who was 2 years old at the time, and his parents were interned.”

Cacao Production

The second post links historical with ongoing injustices and is about the use of coerced labour (i.e., slaves) in the production of chocolate. Karlee Sapoznik’s post notes that consumers boycotts against slave-produced sugar were part of the abolitions campaign. She also reports that “up to 40% of the chocolate we purchase, bring into our homes and eat may be contaminated with slavery”. I like this post because it reminds us that slavery is still a live issue, not something that was totally finished in 1834 or 1865.

40% evil? Or just 40% lipids? has become a very good blog.

Laura Madakoro on Canadian Immigration Heritage

19 03 2010

Laura Madakoro, a PhD candidate in history at UBC, has published a great article on the social memory of immigration in the Globe and Mail.  Laura says that the Pier 21 Museum in Halifax is a great first step, but that the government needs to fund projects that will tell the story of trans-Pacific immigration into Canada. She also argues that online, as opposed to bricks-and-mortar museums, can help to educate Canadians about immigration history.

I have only a couple of things to add to Laura’s great article.

a) We shouldn’t forget the vast numbers of Americans who came north in search of a better life. These people crossed the border at many points, so it would be hard to select one spot for a physical museum. This is another reason why we should have an online museum.

b) We should emphasize the role of immigrant entrepreneurs — the Chairman of the Barrick gold mining company is a Holocaust survivor. Why not have a special museum for them in Toronto’s financial district?

c) Canada was a net exporter of people for several decades in the late 19th century. How do we tell the stories of the vast numbers of French Canadians and anglophones who went to the United States?