History department celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary

Research on colonial paintings and draft dodgers were among a series of presentations made history undergrads celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Canada@150, held on January 18, was the university’s first major celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Organized by professors in the Department of History and Classics, the event began the university’s year of celebrations by showcasing undergraduate research on Canadian history in Convocation Hall.

In her opening remarks, Dean of Arts Lesley Cormack said 2017 is an important year to reflect on Canada’s past. This process, Cormack said, involves recognizing accomplishments and less noble aspects of the nation’s history, such as the treatment of indigenous peoples by early Canadian settlers.

“Our history has often been shameful in the 150 years that we’re celebrating,” Cormack said. “But we need to move forward.”

The undergraduate research displays explored Canadian events from the 19th century to the more recent past. Eleven student research displays filled the hall, covering topics such as Canada’s first female physicians, the history of churches in Edmonton, and atomic bomb education in Alberta.

David Marples, Chair of the Department of History and Classics, said it was appropriate that undergraduates commemorate Canada’s anniversary.

“Undergraduates are the heart and soul of the university, and are too often ignored,” Marples said.

Student Emily Kaliel presented research on colonialism and art from a 400-level history class, which included an analysis of a 1951 colonial painting in Rutherford Library’s reading room, displays white settlers ‘civilizing’ first nations people.

“(Presenting research is part of) recognizing our privilege in Canada, and our responsibility to create an inclusive society, and what we’ve done wrong,” Kaliel said.

Another student, Rebecca Smith-Mandin, presented on reactions to Vietnam draft dodgers in Canada.“We’re in a moment like the 1960s where the future is really unknown,” said Smith-

“We’re in a moment like the 1960s where the future is really unknown,” said Smith-Mandin said. “Analyzing the past helps to learn lessons, by looking at how we talked about events then and how we look at them now. It shows us that our current uncertainty isn’t new.”