Editorial: Social studies lesson keeps us mindful

Celebrate Canadian pride but remember the more challenging history as well

Canadians have a lot of reasons to be proud of their country. We are indeed the envy of many other global residents for our quality of life here at home – things like public health care and other social programs, a strong school system, democratic government, relatively clean, peaceful cities and a willingness to step up internationally when needed.

We are proud of our history, too, remembering each Nov. 11 the sacrifices made a world away, in addition to our contributions to fields of medicine, science, literature, entertainment and sports, among others.

But our collective past is not all rosy, and while we agree wholeheartedly with the need to celebrate our successes, we commend two local social studies teachers for challenging their students to look a little deeper.

Spurred on after reading the Truth and Reconciliation report, Kerry Quinn approached fellow teacher Catherine Beaulac with the idea of tasking their Grade 7 students with making a museum for marginalized groups in Canada. In the process, they learned about women’s rights, First Nations residential schools, Japanese internment camps, the Chinese head tax, the Acadian expulsion and LGBTQ issues.

“I started to think about how I hadn’t learned about residential schools until I was at UVic. I thought, that’s a long time that I was living in this country and not knowing this really dark, important chapter of our history,” Quinn reflected.

Pleased with the students’ interest in and response to their studies, the teachers hope to continue and expand the project moving forward.

It’s a lesson all Canadians could do with remembering. We are a country of many wonderful elements, but to ignore our less-than-glorious past does a disservice not only to those directly affected, but also to the country as a whole.

Hats off to these teachers for challenging their students, and to the students for rising to the task.