, 15 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
I have conflicted feelings about the #Canadian #DDAY commemorations that took place over the last few days, and I struggle during #RemembranceDay because of increasing glorification of war, militarization, and platitudes about honour, duty, and sacrifice. /1
My family has a long history of military service in both World Wars. My great-uncle joined the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, fought at Gallipolli, and died at Beaumont-Hamel. My great-grandfather also enlisted in the RNR and survived the Great War except for a missing finger. /2
My paternal grandfather was a member of the Canadian militia in the interwar years, was a Major during WW2 and remained in Canada throughout the war at Shilo, MB and other bases where he was involved in training enlisted men headed overseas. /3
My maternal grandfather was a navigator for RCAF Bomber Command & flew sorties over occupied Europe & Germany. My maternal grandmother was from Botwood, NFLD & joined the RCAF Women's Division in 1942 & was a wireless operator in Bomber Command (where she met my grandfather). /4
I have travelled to Europe 2X with my partner, daughter, fellow history teachers, & students to study WWI & WW II Canadian battlefields. I've been to Ypres and Passchendaele, the Somme (Beaumont-Hamel), Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Dieppe, DDay beaches, the Scheldt Estuary, & others. /5
I have designed a locally-developed high school course where students at Kelowna Secondary School identified soldiers on the #Kelowna cenotaph, conducted archival research, and wrote the soldiers biographies from cradle to grave. /6
We travelled overseas, located the soldiers’ graves, & students read their biographies to other students & chaperones in emotional events that still make me glassy-eyed. Upon return to Kelowna students presented their biographies to the community and soldiers’ family members /7
On June 6 @matthewasears wrote a thread explaining how war memorials reflect and form society’s values. The #DDAY commemorations celebrate #Canadian heroism in the past and highlight how past conflicts like WW2 were bigger and more important than issues of today. /8
Like Matt, I struggle with the unreflective jingoisim, patriotism, and clichés that are repeated during these commemorations. WW2 may have been fought for freedom and democracy, but the men and women who enlisted had many different reasons for enlisting. /9
If WW2 was fought for freedom & democracy why did Canada become a totalitarian state to win the war? Was the mistreatment of Japanese Canadians & other groups during WW2 aligned with democracy and freedom? Were Indigenous soldiers treated fairly during & after the war? /10
I have profound gratitude for the sacrifices that #Canadian veterans made during these conflicts, but I refuse to make outsized claims about fighting for freedom, justice, democracy, and rights when these issues still haven’t been achieved for all people in Canada today. /11
As @matthewasears points out, celebrating how great we were in the past turns our focus away from pressing issues in the present and future including the impact of colonialism on Indigenous people, #MMIWG, the #climatecrisis, 2SLGBTQQIA rights, amongst others. /12
After my last trip to #Canadian battlefields of WW1 and WW2 with Ss, I decided not to focus future projects on military history: 1. MH gets too much attention in #CDN classrooms 2. Other topics & themes in #cdnhist deserve further attention 3. It excludes many students /13
Anecdotally speaking, #Canadian military history has an outsized place in provincial social studies and history curricula, and in the daily teaching of #cdnhist in classrooms across Canada, despite what uninformed politicians like @jkenney claim. /14
The greater challenge for history teachers & educators is to create history & social studies curricula that teaches about significant #Canadian achievements but also highlights past and present inequities in #CDN society, and how these issues might be improved in the future. /15
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