Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Canada's History Webinar and a tale of dueling Cabinet Photos

I took this from Maclean's website that had some great articles on the new Trudeau cabinet. "Because it's 2015."

Must say, Justin Trudeau's new cabinet is inspiring. I don't want to get too inspired, lest I set myself up for disappointment, but when you consider that Margaret Thatcher had no women at all in her cabinets (she wanted to remain the only women in an group photo) this official picture, alone, is a great thing, an important moment in history.

Men and women, young and old.

Thatcher Cabinet 1989

I was also impressed by the lyrical notes of red in a sea of blue and gray in the official photo.

Yesterday evening I participated in a short but sweet webinar given by Canada's History Magazine, with the guest 'speaker' being Rose Fine-Meyer.

Rose Fine-Meyer, a distinguished OISE educator, gave a presentation on how to use community resources to dig out info about women's history. Right up my alley. The webinar was aimed at teachers and researchers.

Rose Fine-Meyer’s presentation, How Community Influences the Teaching of Women's History in the Classroom.

Fine-Meyer acknowledged that anyone 'tuning in' to her talk had probably torn themselves away from the TV and the coverage of the day's events in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau's swearing in.

After the presentation there was time for a few questions and I asked my Valverde one. Should teachers look at the dark side of women's history, like Mariana Valverde does with her book on the Purity Movement?

Fine-Meyer replied that teachers like to highlight the positive because they wanted to inspire their students, although there was a place for the other. (I am paraphrasing.)

I'm writing Service and Disservice, about the Canadian suffragists and their iffy involvement in the 1917 Conscription Crisis.

It's a follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, about the invasion of UK suffragettes to Canada in 1912/13.

Her remark brought to mind the 1909 article I had read and republished on my old website, called Moral Enthusiasm from Education Foundations Magazine.

The author, Arthur C. Call  writes about 'what it is to be a hero' and how heroes inspire. He uses the examples of Columbus and the Norsemen,and Buddha, Ralph Waldo Emerson, DaVinci and Charlemagne. Half of these example, all men, can be described as blood-thirsty criminals. Columbus committed genocide on the gentle people of Hispanola; The Norsemen (winners in the great Darwinian contest) slew the monks of Ireland; Charlemagne in the name of Christ hacked off the heads of all the pagan leadership, 7,000 I think the number is. Nice people!

If these are heroes, they are heroes with a river of blood on their hands.

My problem with promoting the positive in history, or only telling the ugly stories from the victims' point of view (ie. Residential Schools) is that we never learn that it's not only bad people who do bad things; good people do bad things too, and sometimes merely by being passive.  See McCarthyism, etc.etc.

That's such an important lesson to learn in a democracy.

But, even in my genealogy writing group, where great Canadian history is dug up every month by exploring family history, the stories got much better when the group leader suggested it's  fun when people explore the dark side of their ancestors.

If you want the good side, all you have to do is go to the obituary :) For the other, you have to do some detailed detective work.

PS: in her presentation Fine-Meyer touched upon the suffrage movement in Canada, with a pic of Emily Howard Stowe and that 'iconic' image of Christable Pankhurst and Annie Kenney holding a huge sign VOTES FOR WOMEN.

That's the second time I saw that same image used in the Canadian context, for lack of a better one from Canada. (The first time was for a feature on Women's Soccer this summer.)

I've often published an image from the Toronto World on this blog, explaining that it is the ONLY picture of Canadian suffragists marching that you will ever see. (It is from the 1913, the giant march in Washington and shows the Canadian delegation, made up of August Stowe-Gullen, Emily's daughter, and other Ontario suffragists, all older women.)

An article in the Ottawa paper about Rosalie Jones and her suffrage tramp. She inspired some young Montrealers to propose a similar tramp to Ottawa. That inspired the Montreal elite to start a suffrage organization on the jump...they didn't want this kind of thing happening in Canada. No march happened from Montreal to Ottawa, so no pictures exist of real Canadian suffagettes marching. 

The reason why the Pankhust/Kenney picture is iconic is because they are young women. Canada did not allow young women to participate in our suffrage movement.

Too 'exciteable.'

This Canada's History webinar was the forth in a series of seven on the subject of women in Canadian history.

The Enlargement of Moral Enthusiasms

You were led by these subtle spiritual forces to a finer heroic selfhood.

For example, you got in touch with the Norseman and he was idealized before you. You saw yourself adventurous, fearless, wild. You heart would pour out sagas to the undying ages. You looked upon the mound builders, you became a toiler. But when Columbus came on the scene your courage arose, your perseverance and industry increased. You became willing to risk for the faith you held.

Perhaps you read of Buddha and the genuine peace he offers to one third of humanity. You learned, as others have done certain stock things about Socrates. But upon closer relation with this greatest of Sophists, you began to catch the scholar's enthusiasm.

You learned of Charlemagne, and let the soldier rise in you, the thirst for power.
You may have sat at the feet of Francis, the sweet saint of Assisi and felt you soul warmed at the heart.

You may have contemplated Da Vinci, and become lost in wonder before this greatest mind of all minds.

You learned about Darwin. You learned that Darwin has rarely been highly thought of by the ministers. But the more you learned of the man the more you were able to rise above suffering, the more you sat in his study and learned the value of little things.

Perhaps finally you came to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American Plato, and beheld how he supplemented Buddha's asceticism in you..
Arthur C. Call form Educational Foundations Magazine 1909