Pride and Prejudice: Canada's International Legacy

The Two Sides to Canada

         After less than 40 years since Canada’s confederation, the country took a turn for the 20th century. Although Canada was still very much reliant and under the influence of Britain, this century proved to be a turning point for this nation. As the 1900’s progressed, Canada proved to be a fully capable and independent country, giving pride to all Canadians. Canada proved all this through its victory at Vimy Ridge, contribution to the Suez Crisis, and the creation of its own Constitution. However, there were a few disappointing moments made by this country in the 1900’s. Some of these moments include Japanese Canadian Internment during World War II, the October Crisis, and the Oka Crisis. It is easy to say Canada had many ups and downs during this time.

Canada Day being celebrated at the Parliament of Canada.

            The 20th century was truly the decade of Canada’s development and independence. To begin with, in late 1916 during World War I, General Arthur Currie was assigned a task that appeared quite impossible: lead the Canada’s soldiers in a capture of Vimy Ridge. Despite reluctance, General Currie was able to create an ingenious battle strategy. When the Canadian troops carried out their assault on the Germans, well timed movements disoriented the enemy and allowed Canada to quickly push forward. By April 10th, Vimy Ridge was captured with only 3598 deaths, far less than the 200,000 lost by Britain and France.[i] This gave Canadian soldiers a reputation of being highly capable troops and brought pride to the nation.[ii] Later in Canada’s history, the country again proved its capability through its efforts in the Suez Crisis during 1956. Conflict was arising between the countries of Egypt, Britain and France because of Egypt’s desire to have exclusive control over the Suez Canal. Britain and France’s dislike towards Egypt fueled the support to help Israel in an attack on Egypt in October of 1956.[iii] Meanwhile in Canada, Lester B. Pearson sought for a peaceful solution and suggested the United Nations to send in a peacekeeping force with troops from nations not involved in the conflict.[iv] Canada did not simply jump into a war due to the fact the Britain also fought in it, instead, Canada showed that it was capable of creating and carrying out a plan to help spare the world from full-fledged war. Finally, it was the year 1982 where Canada ultimately demonstrated its greatest moment as a nation. From 1980 to 1982, Prime Minister Trudeau formulated a new Constitution for Canada which would include the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in addition to Canada’s ability to make changes to its Constitution without the need of Britain’s consent. By April 17th, 1982,[v] Trudeau was able to patriate the Constitution Act from Britain, marking the end of Canada’s dependence on Britain in legislation. As you can see, Canada had very important moments in this century displaying the capability of the nation.

[i] CANADA AT WAR. “Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 1917.” WWII.ca http://www.canadaatwar.ca/page9.html (accessed July 25, 2014).

[ii] Elearning Ontario. “Unit 1: 1914-1928 Activity 5: Vimy Ridge.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/1552821/viewContent/27680358/View (accessed July 25, 2014).

[iii] National Dream Productions. “Lester Pearson and the Suez Crisis: Key Dates.” National Dream Productions. http://www.suezcrisis.ca/key_dates.html (accessed July 25, 2014).

[iv] Elearning Ontario. “Unit 4: 1950-1969 Activity 3: The Suez Crisis.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/1552821/viewContent/27680514/View (accessed July 25, 2014).

[v] Library and Archives Canada. “The Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982.” Library and Archives Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/constitution/index-e.html (accessed July 25, 2014).

Canadians returning from Vimy Ridge.
Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

          Although Canada had very proud moments in the 1900’s, there were also ones that were very disappointing. In the year 1942, during World War II, Japanese Canadians were put unjustly into internment camps because they were regarded as “enemy aliens”. All their possessions were confiscated, and Japanese Canadian men were separated from their families and put to hard work with horrible circumstances. The women and children ran schools and clubs in the camps, but conditions were overcrowded, disease ridden, and food was scarce.[i] It was racism of Canadians that ruled these decisions to imprison them. Not a single case of sabotage or spying was caused by the Japanese Canadians and almost two thirds of those locked up had little connection to Japan.[ii] In addition to this tragedy, later in 1970, occurred the “October Crisis”. The “Front de Liberation du Quebec” or “FLQ” created mass destruction all over the province of Quebec in order to achieve their goal of overthrowing the government of the province, set up an independent Quebec, and create a French workers’ state based on communist political principles.[iii] This led to Prime Minister Trudeau invoking the War Measures Act, suspending the rights of Canadians and arresting those who did not deserve to be arrested. This was a wrongful act made and it is debated on whether Trudeau over reacted. On top of this, Canadians displayed unfair actions in 1990, during the Oka Crisis. The Native Americans were being robbed of their land containing an ancient burial ground. Protesting Mohawks created a barricade to block the area. This took a turn for the worst and escalated into violence, leading to a death of an officer. This conflict displays how the Natives were and continue to this day treated unfairly. However the Oka standoff made an increased in awareness of the injustice to the aboriginal communities of the nation.[iv] All in all, many disappointing events took place in the 20th century.

[i] Elearning Ontario. “Unit 3: 1939 – 1950 Activity 2: The Holocaust and Canada’s Treatment of Japanese Canadians.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141726/View (accessed July 25, 2014).

[ii] Elearning Ontario. “Unit 3: 1939 1950Activity 2: The Holocaust and Canada’s Treatment of Japanese Canadians.”Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141726/View (accessed July 25, 2014).

[iii] Elearning Ontario. “Unit 5: 1970 – 1989 Activity 1: The October Crisis.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44263547/View (accessed July 25, 2014).

[iv] Elearning Ontario. “Unit 6: 1990s to the Present Activity 3: Native Issues” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141841/View (accessed July 25, 2014).

Japanese Canadian men at an Internment Camp.
FLQ Protesters
Oka Crisis Stand Off.

              Considering everything, the 1900’s was surely the era where the discredited new country Canada, proved itself to the world. The attack on Vimy Ridge showed all nations that Canada is able to demonstrate skillful tactics and carry an assignment that seemed impossible. Then, Lester B. Pearson and the Canadians came together and led a multinational peace effort to solve the Suez Crisis. Additionally, Canada created its own Constitution and established Canada as an individual nation separated from Britain. Nonetheless, there were some bad occasions. The Japanese Interment was an act based on racism of the Canadians. Later the October Crisis would show how chaos could be started and be solved with immoral actions. Afterwards, the Oka Crisis demonstrated the mistreatment Canada gives to our First Nations. Entirely, although Canada has had its downs in this century, its achievements are what shines through. This was the time of Canada’s growth as a nation and independence.

CANADA REPRESENT!

Works Cited:

CANADA AT WAR. “Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 1917.” WWII.ca http://www.canadaatwar.ca/page9.html

Elearning Ontario. “Unit 1: 1914-1928 Activity 5: Vimy Ridge.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141657/View

Elearning Ontario. “Unit 4: 1950-1969 Activity 3: The Suez Crisis.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141760/View

Elearning Ontario. “Unit 3: 1939 – 1950 Activity 2: The Holocaust and Canada’s Treatment of Japanese Canadians.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141726/View

Elearning Ontario. “Unit 3: 1939 1950Activity 2: The Holocaust and Canada’s Treatment of Japanese Canadians.”Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141726/View

Elearning Ontario. “Unit 5: 1970 – 1989 Activity 1: The October Crisis.” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44263547/View

Elearning Ontario. “Unit 6: 1990s to the Present Activity 3: Native Issues” Elearning Ontario. https://tcdsb.elearningontario.ca/d2l/le/content/4186164/viewContent/44141841/View

Library and Archives Canada. “The Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982.” Library and Archives Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/constitution/index-e.html

National Dream Productions. “Lester Pearson and the Suez Crisis: Key Dates.” National Dream Productions. http://www.suezcrisis.ca/key_dates.html

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