Course Description and Objectives
This course is divided into two parts. In the Fall term, we will ask: How does Canadian history change if you include the stories of Indigenous people as a central part of that history? We will survey the social, political, and economic processes that have made the country, while paying particular attention to the ways that the histories of Indigenous peoples—First Nations, Metis, and Inuit—challenge us to view the marquee events of early Canadian history in a very different light. We will investigate, for example, how Indigenous actors both shaped and were shaped by events as varied as the European struggles for the continent, British Columbia’s gold rush, the resettlement of the West, and even the political negotiations that resulted in Confederation. In the process, we will seek out new actors and different storylines—storylines that are meant to complicate the more familiar national histories you have encountered and to show how our historical understandings—that is, what we think we know about the past—continues to change.
In the Winter term, we continue to look at the world through the eyes of other Canadians —as represented in such cultural artifacts and events as poems, paintings, posters, public policies, speeches, scandals, shows and songs. We seek to account for how and why Canadian society has changed since 1885, and also to account for the endurance of tradition. That is, we seek to understand the complex interplay between continuity and change, and explain the origins, evolution, and decline of Canadian institutions and ideologies since 1885. Canadian history is a rich tapestry of diverse experiences, episodes and ideas that when taken together tell us a great deal about our individual and collective identities. As in the Fall term, we will be allocating as much time to social and cultural developments as to political and economic ones. This is because the actions and ideas of those from below (i.e. “ordinary” Canadians) are just as important to the making of Canada as the actions and ideas of those from above (i.e. economic and political “elites”). The lyrics of a Kashtin song, for example, tell us as much about Canada in the 1980s as do the public policies of Brian Mulroney.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, this course pays close attention to the history of Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous–Crown relations, from earliest times to the present day.
The course will combine formal lectures and discussion-based groups.
Course Requirements and Assignments:
The grades for the Fall term will be assessed as follows:
- Attendance & Participation (incl. in-class writing assignments) – 40%
- Formal Written Assignments – 60%
The grades for the Winter term will be assessed as follows:
- Attendance & Participation – 40%
- In-class test, and final exam – 60%