Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald once remarked, “let us be English or let us be French . . . and above all let us be Canadians,” leading the two opposing cultures to unite as Canada. John A. Macdonald’s efforts in bonding the North and giving birth to the Confederation has long granted him a place as one of the greatest prime ministers in Canada, but recent reformations and value changes sheds light on his not-so-great acts. Many critics urged for the removal of his figure and likeness from the public sphere, but due to his lasting positive influence and the remembrance of our past through statues, I firmly believe that John A. Macdonald’s name should remain in the public sphere.
Throughout the history of mankind, many notable people have come and past, their best ideas and contributions engraved in our brains and our society, and Macdonald is one of those visionaries and missionaries. There can be no denial of his part in founding Canada, from solidifying the notion of two official languages, to building and expanding the confederations, Macdonald is someone who deserves to go remembered. Macdonald believed that “[Canada is] a great country and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; [but] we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken,” and held on to his beliefs with the National Policy to insist on a independent and free Canada, even while many are leaving for the US. It is safe to say that without him, Canada would not be the Canada today. The good that he did are irreplaceable by any other person from his era, but his mistakes are common in almost every other political opponent. Macdonald deserves to be remembered by not just those who can afford to learn history in the private sphere, but everyone who have the right to walk the streets. Removing his name and figure not only removes his contributions, but also an opportunity to connect with the past.
orMy mentor is not currently active in the investment field, besides from a couple of small exchanges. He has not many resources for me besides from books that are very technical, but his conversations with me are the best kind of learning for developing critical and creative thinking. We would talk about things in the news such as Google not reporting their Q4 earnings or Apple announcing that they will start to make MacBook chips. These conversations serve to reinforce what I had learnt, and sometimes my mentor will explain the whole thing over to me again. I think that our conversations together are the best way to develop actual “financial” thinking. This serves to bring my knowledge about textual thing to life. The face to face interaction is amazing for not just reinforcing knowledge, but gaining new ones in a more personal setting.
The process of our meeting usually starts with me asking questions about anything that I had learnt. I would share what I did and some confusing things. This part isn’t very long, as I try to get my questions answered online beforehand. After this, we have time to discuss things and he will mention some things that he thinks is interesting or worth mentioning. I will sometimes start the conversation, but it will always go off-topic. It is funny that way, but also a reminder that we think differently and that my mentor has more life experiences. The “off-topics” are often educational though, as they are almost always about philosophy, politics or religion. I think that as mentor and mentee we are developing our relationship to understand each other more. We may still be uncomfortable with things (he is an introvert mostly), but we respect each other. This is what I think is the most important.
What I have learnt about my mentor is that he can talk for a very long time when he finds something that he is interested about, but otherwise he is not someone who will always have something to say. Sometimes it is my questions that “excites” him and sometimes he would just have an idea flash across his head that he wanted to mention. He knows a lot about Chinese markets, where he had worked and studied, but he kept up in reading on the American and Canadian markets too. I think that he is learning that I am usually independent, but would sometimes forget to do the scheduled work. He has his ways of dealing with it though since he will just tell me that I have extra homework for the next meeting.
To what extent did John A. McDonald’s decision to build the CPR influence Canada as seen now?
Outline the focus of your inquiry and provide background knowledge. Why is this an important and significant question to ask about the past? Provide evidence from primary and secondary sources.
The CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) was a transcontinental railway system that would connect the west with the more developed and populated east. It was promised by John A. MacDonald, our first prime minister, when he rose to power in 1867, leading to the entry of British Columbia into Confederation. The railway came under many critics’ attack, and the Pacific Scandal threw MacDonald off the seat of power. When MacDonald came back to power in 1878, he was determined to make the railway happen. The Canadian Pacific Railway company was incorporated in 1881, and construction finished late 1885. Soon, the first passenger train arrived transcontinental into Port Moody from Montreal in 1886.
The CPR is a massive operation at the beginning of Canada’s history, and in the process of making it happen, many mistakes and sacrifices were made. It is undeniable, however, that it profoundly changed the course of Canada and its people. By weighing the pros with the cons, we can judge the value of the CPR and MacDonald’s decision in retrospect.
Cause and Consequence:
Why did your researched events happen the way they did and what were the consequences?
The first intentions of the railway were to prompt BC to join the Confederation and grow the feeble Canadian economy independent of the US (who refused all trade with Canada at the time). The two goals were certainly met, as BC joined the Confederation soon after the railway was promised with the condition that it must be built in a decade, and businesses sprouted all along the western provinces. The addition of British Columbia further diversified Canada both socially and environmentally and provided a place for people to settle. Canada’s increasing land mass supported its growth politically and economically too, gaining more voice as its assets increased. The railway also fueled new corporations to develop and flourish. The communities started from scratch to provide necessities of life. The new environments also demanded new industries different from the ones Canadians are used to. Fur trading companies became farming and logging ones, and farm forks replaced snowplows. The west and the east could trade local goods, and everyone was happy – the people, who had the commodities they wanted, the companies, which lowered expenses in transport and increased sales, and the government, which sees increased nationalism and a better self-sustaining economy. The brand new Canadian settlements needed much, and the revenues generated by the new industries meant better economy. It is a positive influence on Canadian development as seen from the eyes of mainstream Canadians.
There are more unintended and unthought of consequences of the CPR though. The railway was built on the 10 million hectares of land provided by the government, but one might ask: where did that land come from? To make way for the railway, thousands of indigenous people are forced to leave the land that they have resided on for many hundreds of years. MacDonald even resorted to using hunger to stave off the people, killing many with starvation. These inhumane acts reflect values then and even values now, when indigenous people are on many fronts not equal to non-indigenous Canadians. The Canadian “victory” over the indigenous may even have served to ridicule Louis Riel’s efforts to keep the Metis’ land. Discrimination had only grown with the CPR. Even now, those communities of indigenous people may remember how they lost their ancestral land because of the construction of a railway profiting white people.
To the early Chinese in Canada, the CPR did not bring much hope at all. Forced to work in danger with very little pay, the Chinese workers often died on the job. The Canadians found that the Chinese can be paid very little, expected to work on hard jobs, and more of all be bullied around without care of their lives. Subsequently after completion of the railway, a head tax was introduced for Chinese immigrants, and they were denied the right to vote. The building of the CPR did not do much for the Chinese, who only suffered more because of the labor and discrimination. The history and culture of maltreatment for the Chinese and Asian minorities may have influenced as far as Canada’s treatment of the Japanese in WW2. Looking at the present society, few of the evidence from that period of maltreatment can be seen as apologies are made, and history avoided. However, we need to remember that the same event can be great to one community, race or even country, but the back side of the story is often either untold or drown out in a sea of chants coming from the majority in the front rows.
It is important to mention that although John A. MacDonald did many things unacceptable by today’s standards, we are judging him from our perspective. Many of his policies contained acceptance not found in his era. We should not blame him for his actions extensively, but to properly criticize his actions, we need to look at a different perspective from his own time.
Social Studies Inquiry Process
What conclusions can you reach about your question, based on the research you conducted?
Through an investigation into the influence of the CPR, it becomes evident that many actions, even ones that are celebrated by something as large as a nation, can have darker sides. While something may have tremendously positive influences, the negative influences could also be far-reaching and extensive, as is the case with the CPR. As all humans are equal, we cannot just shout “for the greater good” and only look at the big picture. It is necessary, especially in the case of multiple identities (Indigenous Canadian, etc.) to investigate every possible perspective to assess a fair picture of the consequences of an action. The negatives can be hard to find in a sea of praise, but it is just in fairytales that “all lived happily ever after” exist.
“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state.”
-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (2015)
Choose an event from Canada’s past or present (social, political, environmental, or economic) and describe/illustrate (show cause and effect) how this event influenced / influences all four of the quadrants. Provide images / primary source evidence where possible.
Does your event represent a step towards creating and maintaining a coherent Canadian identity, or does it move Canada more clearly in the direction of Trudeau’s discussion of a “postnational” state?
In your opinion, is there any value in trying to define a specific Canadian identity, or should we abandon this idea towards a more open and global idea of nationhood? Why?
One of the key events that has shaped Canadian identity and affects all aspects of our lives is the right to universal health care. Tommy Douglas (NDP) first proposed it as premier of Saskatchewan in 1947, urging for free basic hospital care. All of the provinces and territories soon followed, helping Canadians across the country live without fear of health issues regardless of their wealth. The medical program soon expanded and improved to include more treatments covered, leading to the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act in 1957 and the Medical Care Act in 1966. This is a political event, but its far-reaching consequences are definitely affecting all four quadrants. This decision definitely affected the social aspect of Canadians, helping equalize people to make sure they have the same access to important social services. It is also an important step forward in making Canada the accepting, unbiased nation that it is now. It is a statement made by the government that symbolizes their determination to support all their citizens and provide them with the same fundamental rights regardless of poverty or social standing. On the economical side, the government’s decision to “reimburse, or cost share,
one-half of provincial and territorial costs for specified hospital and diagnostic services” will have an impact on the other expenses of the country. The free medical services are, after all, not cheap, knowing that the average household pays $11,320 per year in tax money. The money spent on providing care may be withdrawn from important funds, like ones set up for the environment. The Conservative party is not known for renewable energy and the like, so the health care funds may reduce environmental funding not supported by the government. Also, the fact that people won’t have to pay for healthcare will mean that a lot more people will use the system, increasing strain on the system and usage of medical supplies, creating more waste that may harm the environment.
This act has moved Canada closer as a nation by emphasizing to the world the values that Canadians are proud of. Even today, free universal health care is not the case in many countries in the world, and the fact that Canada is part of this group says something about our stand regarding human rights. From the women’s rights movements in 1929 to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, Canada has shown itself to be a nation that embraces change to accept all races, genders or social classes. Canada’s decision to spend valuable funds on the universal health care system to provide access to a healthy life for everyone states its priorities to the world. At that time, not many countries would use big sums of money to help the poor, but we did, and that action at the time made millions of Canadians proud. It is actions like this, ones which distinguish Canada from the rest, that shapes Canadian identity, and I believe that everyone, whether then or now, would see us Canadians as open and tolerant people.
I firmly believe that we, as Canadians, should have a collective identity that overarches on the sea of different values and beliefs. It is only through this sense of being “Canadian” that we could be united as a nation and a country. Canadians in this country may have distinct values and beliefs, but just like how Americans are united by the idea of “freedom and ideas”, we should be people drawn together by something as well. This something, I think, is the strive for equality. As a nation, the Canadian identity is gender equality (LGBTQ + as well), immigration and refugee help, First Nations support, and multiculturalism. Regardless of whether the government is doing well to actualize those things, they are the things that Canadians care about and believe in. This is what makes Canada the nations that it is, huge ideas that support and protect the multitude of small, individual ideas, knowing that our differences can’t break us, but only unite us.
Based on our conversations in class today, your prior experience, and the “Guideposts to Historical Thinking” handout, which historical thinking question do you believe is the most important to consider for a vibrant and challenging Social Studies experience this year? Why?
I believe that the most important question to ask in our Social Studies experience is that of how the history, on paper, relates to our lives in the 3-dimensional world. Anything that we learn in the classroom needs to be applied to our lives in order to make a difference. If history remains history and not experience, they are just stories to entertain, pedantic knowledge that does nothing except to showcase memory. It may sound easy, but it actually requires us to build connections with the text and to be careful not to impose current values on past societies. A guidepost to historical thinking states that “a fair assessment of the ethical implications of history can inform us of our responsibilities to remember and respond… [to] the past.” Understanding the context of why people did what they have done will present to us what has happened in its truth. It is important that we try to give credit to the wronged and shed light on the past, not just for history’s sake, but for our sake too. Our understanding of history can help us make informed decisions about issues in our own society, and that is what ultimately matters.
At this time in my mentoring relationship, I am at the end of the negotiating stage with my mentor according to Zachary’s model of mentorship. The reason that negotiation took a very long time was because meeting and actually discussing the details of our expectations and goals turned out to be hard. Due to our shifting schedules, we often had to make amendments to our agreements. I had troubles at the beginning regarding the role of my mentor in this project, specifically how he can support me and what he should teach me. This unclearness leads to a lack of goals and criteria for success. While I got more into gears as I gained knowledge about my topic, I have a better idea of how exactly my mentor can support me in the process of this project.
Our mentor meetings now are actually quite productive now. I would have some questions that he can answer, and he would then talk about specific things that he wants me to think about or just life experiences that shows something about the stock markets. The first part would take around 30 minutes, and depending on how much my mentor wants to talk about, we could be together for up to 2 hours. The meetings are turning out to be great.
The only thing that I would like to happen would be to establish a closer relationship with my mentor. Right now, we are in a kind of teacher-student relationship. I sometimes feel that I am troubling my mentor everytime I needed him for something. To build friendship, I need to gain mutual respect in the first place. This respect is not one of being polite, but more of respect for other’s abilities and ideas. What I will have to do will be to make the meetings not just a learning experience for me, but my mentor as well through teaching a mind without pre-assumptions. The simplest thing to do right now is to get ready for each meeting, to make sure that I am prepared with questions and to be attentive and focused during my meetings.
For a progress update, I am currently still watching Khan Academy videos. I will finish in around 2-3 weeks.
This week’s focus for our mentor meeting is context, and to me, it means asking the questions: what is the context of my meetings, why is there this context, how is it significant, and how does it impact the mentoring relationship. These are hard series of questions to find out, as I noticed how beyond the initial context of the place and time, there is the mindset of my mentor or me, which are also contexts in our conversation, in addition to what we are doing.
Zachary (2000) points out that to overcome the influences of the multiple contextual layers that affect an individual simultaneously, it is wise to set ground rules and processes which work in specific context. To answer the questions above, I made sure that both my mentor and I know the “terms and conditions” of our time together. We made sure we know how we will communicate with one another first, which is through email, and then an in-person meeting. The usual meeting location will either be at my house, his house or the library, which I will detail in my emails. We would meet at least twice a month, and by the end of our time together we would have accomplished the goals of this project. This section of our meeting went very well, and we were able to set clear goals for the next few meetings.
One different thing about this year’s In-Depth that I’ve noticed is that I have much better communication with my mentor. We could communicate well with each other in our meetings because we respected each other and knew each other well. This enabled us to listen, think and respond in an effective fashion. We had a good relationship, which means that we are at ease with each other when sitting together, and we can experiment with ideas without fear. All of this helped us communicate clearly and pleasantly.
There are still some things that can be improved in the mentoring sessions. It could be nice if we could:
have time to talk a little bit more about ourselves so we can understand each other better.
have smaller informal discussions during the week to exchange information.
eliminate distractions and focus for the hour on the most important things.
To accomplish these goals, I plan to set up an extra meeting (depending on my mentor’s availability) this week sometime to do a casual cafe talk about our life experiences and goals. If he is not available, an online chat would also be great. I am going to try to revive my WeChat account, the main social media messaging account that my mentor uses. It is hard because WeChat is not on the computer, and I don’t have a phone accessible at many times. I will just set a routine of writing down some casual questions and getting my phone to ask once in a while. I realized since last year that an agenda, or just simply a list of questions/goals for the meeting works very well to keep me and my mentor on track since we are aware of the content and time to go.
As for my progress this week, I am still doing backgrounders, watching Khan Academy videos on stock and bonds and reading elementary Investopedia articles, which are extremely detailed and helpful (they are actually meant for university finance students and adults). I didn’t take many notes, which I guess I should do. I may just go over the videos and copy the key term though.
As the In-depth project progress, we are now starting to meet with our mentors and receive guidance from them regarding our goals and procedures. Ms. Mulder has asked us to comment on the following questions for this post:
How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
What were those experiences like for your mentor?
What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?
My mentor gained his experience in the investment field through personal interest, jobs, and education. He received teaching in university that helped him find a job as a broker, initially. He told me that after switching a few jobs and having many mentors in between, he is now an investment counsellor and can finally start helping others on the journey that he went through. He is a firm believer of the “guide and relate” model of mentoring relationships when I mentioned it to him, and he commented that the best teachers he had didn’t just pour out information to him, but created an environment where he can learn on his own, supporting him and guiding him to implement his actions. Teaching did provide him with a lot of professional knowledge, but the most important ones came from teachers, who like mentors, took the time to learn about him and personally encourage and support him. The conversations between us are almost just an exemplary model of how having a mentor one on one can help me digest information. I had read Ms. Mulder’s blog post about mentorship, but it is through this conversation that I am able to develop my own interpretations of it and have someone experienced confirm or reject it. My mentor is far from perfect, but I learned to be understanding of other people’s ideas, especially those who have no previous experience and is not restricted by the standardized conventions. Truly, mentoring is not about how we influence others, but how we help them on their journey to find their own version of the truth they are seeking.
It is finally time for another In-Depth project! The project is one of my favourite TALONS events, and I have thought long and hard about what I want to learn about. After some comparisons and evaluations, I got down to investing in securities, funds, etc.
The reason that I decided to learn about investing is partially due to the eminent person project I completed earlier in the year. Even when I was younger, still in elementary school, my parents exposed me to some books that humorously talks about the importance of growing money. The vivid metaphors intrigued me and planted a seed inside. All of that helped me make my decision for this year’s project.
There are two possible mentors that can support me in my learning. One has already agreed orally and is experienced doing trading (he worked at a stock exchange). The other person manages my family’s stocks and is very professional, with many years of outstanding record. I might be able to Skype her since she is in China, but if not she can give me some pointers if I email her.
“In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.” – Robert Arnott