My first reaction to this article was ... surprise, surprise!
A new study released just ahead of Remembrance Day suggests the majority of young people score a failing grade on the subject of Canada's history. That's despite major education initiatives over the past decade to try to boost the collective memory, such as the construction of the Canadian War Museum and television initiatives such as "Heritage Minutes" segments from The Historica Foundation.
Right. What do you expect in a country whose national media refused to air Canadian historical documentaries like "Freedom Had a Price", to honour certain Canadian war heroes, and where bookstores don't bother stocking books on Canadian historical fiction like Kobzar's Children??
However, as the article illustrates, and some of the comments suggest, that's not the history that the cultural elites want the public to know. They're more interested in the Canadian selective memory than the collective memory, as the article goes on to illustrate:
Here are some key findings from the study:
- In 1997, 36 per cent of Canadians knew the year of Confederation compared to just 26 per cent in 2007;
- In 1997, 54 per cent of those polled knew the name of Canada's first prime minister, while just 46 per cent now know that John A. Macdonald held this position;
- Respondents' scores on questions about Canada's military history increased. In 1997, 31 per cent knew that the Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought in the First World War, a percentage that has now risen to 37 per cent;
- In the recent study, 37 per cent knew Nov. 11 marked the end of the First World War, compared to 33 per cent in the earlier study.
Now of course it is appalling that so few students, and adult Canadians for that matter, know these things. These are the basics, for heaven's sake!
But, as mentioned above, there is more, much more, history that many influential Canadians don't want learned.
I find it every bit as appalling that all too many still feel that if you come to Canada you have to forget where you came from, and especially the culture of where you came from... including the history.
And that they consider that the people who don't forget, and especially those who continue to honour cultural traditions of their (non-Anglo) forbears, are not "real" Canadians, no matter what they did ... or are doing ... to build this country. Basically, just because they didn't forget.
With a self-limiting attitude like that, no Canadian should seriously expect better than this report.