03 March 2010

Kenney rewrites history -- this is a surprise?

So Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney excised any mention of gay rights from the new citizenship guide Discover Canada. This should surprise us? Hardly. History belongs to those in power and the Conservatives are in power, so Canadian history becomes conservative history. An excellent article on how this affected the guide appeared in The Tyee.

The guide discusses our wars ad nauseam but includes only one sentence on peace-keeping and nothing at all about our peaceful contributions to the international community. Medicare, which many Canadians believe to be our most defining institution, is never mentioned. Nor is Tommy Douglas, the man most responsible for it, once voted the greatest Canadian of all time. And on and on it goes, a conservative, militaristic document.

The guide serves to illustrate why teaching history in schools is problematic. Rather than being taught as a tool to help children understand humanity, its triumphs and its tragedies, its strengths and its weaknesses, and thus help them improve the human condition, it is used to promote tribal myths.

Nonetheless, it has been suggested that the guide be used in our schools. A disturbing thought -- indoctrinating children in militaristic mythology -- although it would serve nicely to show the younger generation how history becomes an instrument of those in power, an important lesson to learn. Jason Kenney's censorship could then turn out to be quite instructive.

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