Anything But

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The Canucks

Introduction - The Canuck

Internationally Canadians have been identified by, and identify with, the idealized Canadian – the “Canuck”. This representation, and Canada’s acceptance of it as an identity, however, is extremely problematic. Within each interconnected article, our small group aims to show the contemporary inconsistencies this stereotype holds, and how our historical understanding of Canada has been distorted, filtered, and misrepresented; and is thus well worth further investigation. We will show how this a priori understanding of Canada undermines the Canadian reality of a nation built up by a massive variety of communities, both physical and imagined, and how being a Canadian often means being anything but a Canuck.



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Who is a Canuck? This guy, that's who.


What is a Canuck though? As Douglas Vaisey presented in class, the term is an elusive one, and while its denotative meaning is something only to be speculated upon, its connotation is clear - A Canuck is a Canadian who wears the Canadian ideals on his (likely plaid) sleeve. To be a canuck means a variety of things, but in short it means to be stong, polite, apologetic, a hockey enthusiast (at least, fanatics are preferred), and most importantly embracing of Canada's cold climate.



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A true Canadian drama


Introduction - Challenging the Canuck


This is a famous Molson Beer commercial which discusses the Canadian image, denouncing the common American misinterpretations of Canada. This video, as told by our assumably representitive "Joe" neatly declares what it is in the Canadian stereotype that Canadians disagree with, such as the American belief that we are still a frozen culture both in time and temperature, comprised of lumberjacks and fur-traders surviving in our sparsely populated arctic wasteland by means of snowsoes and dogsled. Or that our population is small enough that we all know one another, despite our size.

Furthermore, this advertisement further enforces appropriate aspects of the Canuck stereotype that Canadians ascribe to - our (mildly) fierce appreciation of Canadian symbols such as the beaver and toque, as well as the Canadian pride in our size and hockey culture. Most importantly, this commercial expresses the Canadian attribute of anti-Americanism, sharply defining ourselves in contrast to America in terms of our political system, our approach to multiculturalism, and our considerably less violent approach to problem solving, such as peacekeeping.

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One notable point however, is one remembers that this commercial was created with a purpose, to sell Canadians a specific brand of beer. Its tools of cultural propagation such as this, which play off the Canadian national pride to choose a Canadian beer over the American competition, challenging those who do otherwise as more americanized, and thus less of a Canadian, and when one couples this with the social stereotypes being Canadian implies, less of an outdoorsy "macho man". Further more, one needs to remember that this commercial was run when the company was still Canadian owned, something that changed along with their advertising tone in the years following.
This is a perfect example of how goal-oriented corporations are able to use our desire to be a good Canadian to create a national narrative around their product by emphasizing its Canadian nature, and by transforming the act of selecting which beer one purchases into a declaration of one's national identity.

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Despite its anti-American sentiment, Canada is still often internationally seen solely in relation to our southern neighbors

By Kevin Fallis and Kayla Samson, April 1st 2011







Constable Geoff Mantler of the Kelowna RCMP kicking a man in the face.

This video displays an act that took place in early January 2011 in BC. The basic gist of what occurred was the police pulled over a man who had been suspected of possessing a firearm and was reportedly firing that weapon at a local golf course. The man, clearly cooperating by getting out of the car and getting on his hands and knees, is then boot kicked in the face by the RCMP officer.
Upon further reading, reports have said that the man, who was 51 years old, was a maintenance worker at the golf course who, for his job, shoots at geese that are on the golf course to scare them away. However, he was at that time on leave from work because he had recently suffered a head injury in a motorcycle accident.
So this old man, who is probably just trying to continue to do his job even though he is on medical leave and not getting paid to do this work, gets kicked in the face by a cop after cooperating and being submissive?
This seems interesting to me because of how we have talked about the RCMP being the face of Canada, the backbone and support system that people look up to for guidance. I don't know about everyone else, but if this is want represents Canada as a whole, I feel ashamed to be Canadian. I know that this is not a representation of ALL RCMP officers, as I'm sure there is officers out there who are respectful, however this is one amongst many recent incidences that have made the RCMP look foolish. The continuing charades that these officers carry out, all the while trying to promote peace and respect, makes them look really stupid. Also, the fact that after this incident occurs they are trying to cover it up and charge this man with other charges to make what the Constable did seem more acceptable, shows you the type of people who must be in charge. That they somehow still support what this officer did, and are trying to make it seem like its this mans own fault, and that he deserved a kick in the face.
This officer ended up being suspended with pay, and is facing internal RCMP charges. So basically he will probably get a slap on the wrist and walk away, showing all other RCMP officers exactly what they can get away with.

Moral of the story..
Be careful, because the next time you get pulled over for a suspected incident.. you may just end up looking like this guy..
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by Cara Stymest
Sources used were the following web articles:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/no-reference-to-domestic-violence-in-bc-kicking-victim-court-filings/article1866452/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/bc-man-kicked-in-head-during-arrest-baffled-by-allegations-of-domestic-violence/article1869554/







F.R. Scott, “W.L.M.K.” from The Eye of the Needle: Satire, Sorties, Sundries (Montreal: Contact Press, 1957)


How shall we speak of Canada,
Mackenzie King dead?
The Mother's boy in the lonely room
With his dog, his medium and his ruins?

He blunted us.

We had no shape
Because he never took sides,
And no sides
Because he never allowed them to take shape.

He skilfully avoided what was wrong
Without saying what was right,
And never let his on the one hand
Know what his on the other hand was doing.

The height of his ambition
Was to pile a Parliamentary Committee on a Royal Commission,
To have "conscription if necessary
But not necessarily conscription,"
To let Parliament decide--
Later.

Postpone, postpone, abstain.

Only one thread was certain:
After World War I
Business as usual,
After World War II
Oderly decontrol.
Always he led us back to where we were before.

He seemed to be in the centre
Because we had no centre,
No vision
To pierce the smoke-screen of his politics.

Truly he will be remembered
Wherever men honour ingenuity,
Ambiguity, inactivity, and political longevity.

Let us raise up a temple
To the cult of mediocrity,
Do nothing by halves
Which can be done by quarters.

Mackenzie King, DCB


DID YOU KNOW? 
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Our late Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, seeked comfort from the deaths of beloved ones by consluting mediums. A special loved one who King had claimed to have contacted was his mother, Isabella Grace Mackenzie. Not only was King a "mama's boy", he seemed to have had an unsual relationship with his mother, maybe he shared a few attributes of the oedipus complex?

King was very discreet about his encounters with mediums. His cautiousness about his secret habit was a good move, after all, his fellow Canadians would not have been pleased if they knew their Prime Minister was asking for guidance from dead politicians. Looking back, King must have collected some good suggestions considering he was our Prime Minister for almost two decades.

King also communicated with the spirits of Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Wilfred Laurier and of course his darling dogs, Pat and Bob.

But, who are we to judge? If you had the chance to communicate with some famous people, wouldn't you?

By Kayla Samson

Sources used:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lyon_Mackenzie_King




"HISTORICA MINUTES: HISTORY BY THE MINUTE"



The Heritage Minute's were launched in 1991 on CBC, where they were aired during TV commercials and played at theatres before a film. While watching a program on CBC television, we are presented with a 60 second "short film". These short films are supposed to be a brief and compressed moment of Canadian history.

Why are these certain events chosen?

As we all know, history is the key to the past. We can learn from history and hopefully avoid repeating past mistakes. History can help us understand our heritage by explaining why certain traditions, customs and practices were invented by past generations. Sixty seconds is a short time to learn a bit of our Canadian heritage, so why not tune in? The clips are focused on certain attributes and legacies of Canada and they seem to be directed towards everyone as facts or reminders. For example, "James Naismith's invention of Basketball", "Joe Schuster creates superman" or "Nellie McClung demands the right to vote in Manitoba".

Hopefully everyone takes the time to pay attention to the short films, since they do show interesting and important events in Canada that can relate to every Canadian. It focuses on all topics possible in Canada such as literature, art, politics, ethnicity, discoveries and sports etc... For those who happen to stumble upon this historical moment, they will be able to learn or recall a little bit of Canadian history.

To conclude, tune in and start learning!

By Kayla Samson


Sources used:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_Moment



"I am not Canadian"


The video depicts the typical French Quebecer and we can’t help but laugh. What is shown in the video are certain aspects of the French culture and identity. The content of the video tries to differ itself from Canada, by noting certain things that are present in the Quebec. Most of the information mentioned is known to be found in the province. The snowman (mascot of the winter carnival), poutine, Quebecois and jouale, are all bits that make up their culture. The Quebecer, who is dressed in the typical Canadian gear, also mentions celebrities native to their province, politics and traffic rules.

At the end of the video, he clearly states “I am not Canadian”. To most Quebecers the provincial identity brought them together to fight a political goal, the referendum. I think the video, even though it’s clearly for comedy, is stating their own unique identity, which they identify as being provincial not national. As Canadians we know that Quebec has been a province who does differ from all the others. They truly believed in preserving their culture, i.e. French being the official language and they almost succeeded in separating themselves from Canada. Their unhappiness was shown on October 30th, 1995 during the referendum where 49.42% voted “yes” for the separation.

When we have the possibility of loosing our identity/culture, we act, trying to save and preserve what we consider to be important to us. Language was a huge aspect of Quebec’s identity, which they fought to preserve in 1974.

Although the video is just for laughs, we also have some important content being shown which deserves to be brought to light.

Kayla Samson





Heritage Moment Critical Assessment - The Deportation of the Acadians.


This video depicts a group of "Mini-University" day campers from here at Saint Mary's acting out the great upheaval of the Acadians under British orders during the 1750's. While this parody of "Play that funky music" doesn't stand necessarily as material for a heritage moment, the event itself stands as an important part of Nova Scotia's history. The Deportation of the Acadians is an example of heritage because it was a defining moment for the Acadians, which helps distinguish their culture. As Anderson states in Imagined Communities, "the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.", a comradeship that as history shows, was not always a national or inter-cultural comradeship that Canada now prides itself in, having been built o This comradeship however, is seen through the communities affected by such acts, and has brought together thousands of Acadians surrounding this single act of injustice upon their culture, creating in its wake a cultural narrative of racial victim hood in the attack, and of cultural strength following the exceptional cases of Acadians returning, some after traveling by land for great distance, in order to return to their homeland in Acadia.
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The heritage moment serves as a reminder of Canadian's tendency to idealize it's darker historic elements through a rose tinted lens, in order to distance ourselves from the bloodier moments, and the realization of how many lives were affected, ruined, or ended in order to build our "peaceful" nation. Historical moments like this, demonstrate clearly Canada's willingness to glaze over culturally painful topics as this, focusing solely on the image of armed British soldiers forcing Acadian civilians onto ships under threat of violence, as told through the style of general racial disdain between the French and English, a history no Canadian can effectively argue against. What this video, and more generally Canada's public treatment of the literally forever life changing event is the overall context in which it occurred in.

This context, highly simplified was simply that the deportation of the Acadians was not solely an act of discrimination (though racial undertones clearly were present) but rather as a desperate military tactic in order to preserve British political power within Nova Scotia. This is particularly true of the Bay of Fundy Campaign when one considers that during this period French forces were building major military settlements on the New Brunswick side of the bay, as a direct challenge to British Authority, an act that if reciprocated by the Nova Scotian side, would have spelled major naval disaster for British strongholds in coastal Nova Scotia.
With the military concerns of the period stated, we can also look to the fact that at this time to the Acadians understandable refusal to sign a British oath of loyalty for the second time, and the cultural tendency to align with local native populations in battle and otherwise (as the British saw in anti-migration raids performed against both Lunenburg and Dartmouth) that the British distrust of the Acadians, while eventually carried out to the extreme, was founded on a basis far deeper than cultural discrimination.
The video which displays the great expulsion was simply just a glimpse. It failed to take into account the truly disastrous event that the Acadians experienced. Lowenthal states the following, " Heritage is mandatory; it comes to us willy-nilly and cannot be shed, however shaming it may be. To share a legacy is to belong to a family, a community, a race, a nation."
This video can be embraced as a piece of Canadian heritage as through its filtered telling of history supplies a rallying point for the minority community of Acadians within Canada, while still providing a forum for apology by the state without breaking the Canadian cultural taboo of presenting Canada as a less than polite, peaceful nation. By presenting the idea as an unfortunate truth that occurred along the way as by product of a racially-charged war, rather than as the calculated military tactic that truly defined Canadians ethnographic landscape, Canadians have created a narrative of Canada who, despite its quietly stated history, has since been able to rise above and create a blossoming multicultural mosaic.

By Kevin Fallis and Kayla Samson

Sources used:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EgzxPPbIu8

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
David Lowenthal, The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History





Canadian Image in the Film Industry





QUICK! One of these men is from Ottawa, the other is from Montreal; which one is which?
QUICK! One of these men is from Ottawa, the other is from Montreal; which one is which?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479647/



The 2006 Quebec-made Bon Cop, Bad Cop is a fantastic example of nation-building within the Canadian film Industry. The film is unique from many other action films in that in that it is Canadian made, and released almost exclusively to Canada, exploring the Canadian identity of fragmented cultures. This allows us to see Canada, and how it and sees itself and the relations within itself, in a relatively purely self-conscious manner. This modern approach used by this film does come with a price, as this film looks into Canadian culture through the model and dialect of a Hollywood action film, and is a far from high-brow cultural self-introspection. Despite this, the modern take on the Canadian identity does allow Canadians to update their cultural stereotypes a bit from the Bob and Doug Macenzie era, and touches on several major Canadian issues and themes, such as the language divide, Canadian’s anti-American sentiment, and hockey's role as a Canadian cultural centerpiece.
The film, while still clearly a action-cop movie, is surprisingly based around conversations regarding differences in anglo and franco Canadian culture between detectives working on the cultural border of Ontario and Quebec: the need to work in both the English and French detective's respective districts (the complete explanation is found below) allowed the film to be marketed as Canada's first fully bilingual film, with the main characters bouncing between languages throughout, and making use of rather intensive wordplay for both languages. This also allowed something of a means for the Anglophone and Francophone to explain several language differences to the other, with the francophone detective at one point explaining the full conjugation of several French swear words, for example. The lengths this film went to be as bilingual as possible clearly shows the Canadian state’s acceptance of the ideal of bilingualism, and its desire to push this message, the myth of complete Canadian bilingualism, to the general public as much as possible is clearly seen.

The films full explanation why they need to work together: because the body landed on their border... Canadian action films have not caught up to their American counterpart sadly.
The films full explanation why they need to work together: because the body landed on their border... Canadian action films have not caught up to their American counterpart sadly.


The film also explores several other Canadian cultural cliches, some with a tone of irony, others as a clear embracement and rallying point for the Canadian-oriented audience. The most prominent use of the latter here would be the film’s treatment of hockey as a homogenous Canadian ideal.

[SPOILER ALERTS] (Needed to fully look into the films themes. If you intend to see this film, skip past!)
This is shown through the films treatment of hockey players (the films basis) as a crime beyond that of any celebrity murder, and in how virtually everyone within this film appreciates hockey, and is proud to argue their home teams superiority,(a true Canadian pastime, even when solving crimes). While this sounds plausible, it is the movies treatment of hockey as a national icon, rather than regionally celebrated teams that this movies point is most clearly made. This is because it is only upon knowledge that an important piece of hockey is being sold to an Texan who promise to make it "as American as a big ol' steak" [Sic] that sends a Canadian into a murderous rampage to “Save our nation”.
[END SPOILER ALERTS]

What does this mean for Canada? It means that Canadians, do to some degree accept and embrace our stereotypes. Canadian’s aren’t afraid to admit and stand by (even if while self-consciously mocking) our fanatical love of hockey, our fallibility at living up to our bilingual national obligations, our nationalism being based on anti-American ideals, and our ability to function coherently as a nation despite the cultural rivalry that culturally defines Canada. So even while each Canadian may not accept that everyone from Ottawa is a bureaucrat, or that Montreal residents are all fighting hooligans as the film suggests, that Canadians are able to at least accept such a notion as not being outlandish. And while we can see that the Hollywood style depiction has blown these notions out of proportion for entertainment’s sake, that we quietly internalize these ideas as a part of our national character. Thinking back to the opening image, did you guess correctly which town each of the Character’s was from? Furthermore, while still unable to find the number’s the Quebec film industry has a long history of receiving large amounts of funding from the Canadian government; particularly from Telefilm Canada. I am for one curious as to how much, if any, this film received from the government as official state support. This is to say that while the public media is still a major branch of “the state” it would be interesting to see how much of these ideals the Canadian government itself would wish for Canadians to see in ourselves, and financially how much this image is truly state-endorsed.

- Kevin Fallis





MAPS

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created in 1744 by Joseph La France and Arthur Dobbs

http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/historical/preconfederation/newfrance1740/110.gif/image_view

This map depicts the geographical knowledge of a fur trader named Joseph La France. The map centres the eastern and central regions of Canada, which were essential to the trade in North America in the 18th century. Although the map displays more of the eastern part of Canada, we can also see Manitoba (expeditions have not gone further in the West in the 1740’s). The map itself was created by Arthur Dobbs with the help of La France. La France was a Métis fur trader who was denied a licence to trade in Montreal so; he decided to start trading in Hudson Bay with the English. La France, who refused to return home, was sent to England and this is where he met Dobbs. Dobbs was building a case against HBC, where he used La France’s maps and knowledge of the land as evidence.
The map serves as an image displaying a functional region. This map was created with the geographical knowledge of a fur trader. La France, started trading with his father at an early age and at the same time, learning trade routes. This map is proof of one man’s expeditions throughout Canada for trading. The map illustrates the important parts of Canada for its resources in the 1740’s, highlighting the areas of fur trading, fishing etc. The map was also important in displaying certain rivers that could be used for access to lakes for trade. The map also colonizes the land, where traders would be able to differ from French and English territory and would be useful for deciding where to set up strategic trade posts.
Maps during the 18th century were used to define and display discovered territories and their resources.

Sources:
http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=35582
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_La_France

-Kayla Samson





Museums and Creating the Canadian Image


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Authors such as Yves Yvon J. Pelletier, Claire Campbell, and Ian McKay discuss when looking into our nations history, the importance of considering exactly what and where has been considered as historical grounds, and the political implications of what is allowed into museums and monuments as signifiers of our National history. Furthermore, they argue that we need to recognize that museums are present as a branch of the state, and have been put in place with the specific intention of communicating Canadian values and ideals, as supported by the state, to their audience. This is accomplished by the means of filtering history through the lens of whether such an account makes for a “useable past”. Historical accounts and artefacts that fit into this category are then presented to Canadians as a part of our “heritage”, despite being only one specific version of such a history.

All this is to say that when museums and monuments discuss elements of our cultural heritage, one needs to understand that this is a historical account being told from someone speaking on behalf of the state having decided which events best represent whatever Canadian ideals they are trying to communicate, teaching and enforcing whatever they feel means to “Be Canadian”.

This brings us to Canadian Museum of Immigration found at Pier 21 in the south end of the Halifax peninsula. The states decision that this facet of our history should be celebrated is unsurprising; as CEO of the Pier 21 Society Bob Moody explains: “We are a country of immigrants.” and that “Pier 21 continues to celebrate these evolving stories at a time when it is increasingly important for us to understand and celebrate our country’s history, fabric and future”. [the full account can be found here]. Likewise, the decision to place the museum within Pier 21 was an obvious one, with the building being the first stop for 1.5 million immigrants entering the Country in the first half of the 20th century, as well as the leaving and returning point for thousands of military personal and their families in the world wars.

What does need require closer inspection however, is the museums content. While researching British Canadian war brides following WWII, I was shocked to see that while war brides, which at the time was the biggest single wave of immigrants Canada had ever seen, received little more than a single plaque, and a brief mention in an exhibit focused on returning soldiers, hockey had received one full half of the museums functioning space during my visit. If one is to equate proportional representation to cultural importance, this says that Canada’s tradition of playing hockey is more important to Canada’s role as a nation than every immigrant, and their 1.5 million stories, that had arrived in Canada in the last century. This is a perplexing notion on its own, but especially troubling when it is presented as such in the Canadian Museum of Immigration, the one Canadian heritage site dedicated to such stories.


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The brief plaque for War Brides
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70 000 new Canadians

This is not to say that Pier 21 has failed at its role as a museum however, there are a variety of reasons to dedicate a smaller space to stories like this; simply that one needs to look less to its role of presenting the Canadian history to the public, and closer to its role as a nation builder in Canada, something that the museum places such gravitas upon that it created the “Nation Builders Plaza” in front of its entrance. When Pelletier’s arguments are superimposed on Pier 21, we can see that its job isn’t only to tell Canadians what it meant to be an immigrant, but also to tell immigrants and their decedents (the museum’s target audience) what it means to be Canadian. As a historical museum, what better way is there to teach Canadian ideals than to present the most universally connecting element in Canadian culture; Hockey. This presentation comments on Canadians love of the outdoors, as well as our tough, hearty image by placing particular emphasis on the dangerous and violent nature of the early game.

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- Kevin Fallis




The Fortress of Louisbourg


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France built the Fortress in 1720 due to its strategic placement in the Atlantic. Although the Fortress was built for military purposes, it also was a trading post between other French colonies and New England. The Fortress’ strategic base did not go unnoticed and five years after its completion, it experienced its first siege in 1745. France regained control of their fortress in 1748 with the outcomes of the Aix-La-Chapelle treaty. It was exactly 10 years later in 1758, when the fortress was captured by the British. The result of this final siege was the domination of Nova Scotia by the English, which caused the disappearance of imperial French presence. Even though there was no imperial French presence, there was a population of French Acadians who were left behind.
The Acadians who had defined themselves as being neutral were now, on paper, English subjects after signing an oath of allegiance in 1763. The British decided to scatter the remaining Acadians all over Nova Scotia to avoid the possibility having one defining French presence. Despite the fact that they were no longer together physically, they had formed an imagined community through their similarities and common interests. All these Acadians had suffered through the Deportation together and it only strengthened how they recognized their Other, a.k.a the Britons. The Acadians were a population drifting all over Nova Scotia but they had nothing that anchored them to Nova Scotian soil. The land that they once had settled and farmed was now taken over by English colonists. The Acadians, till after the 1960’s did not see Louisbourg as their historical legacy.
The reconstruction of Louisbourg can be related to the declined economy in Cape Breton and the gap growing between the French and English Canadians. As Lowenthal states, “[Heritage] in Americas is used to requite economic and social angst and lost community.” The financial support for the reconstruction of the Fortress did come from the federal government. The key point to everything mentioned above is how the Fortress has been commemorated. Today, it is celebrated as being both a French and English fortress and with this notion embracing all identities that share this heritage found within its walls. Lowenthal explains the following, “We see what happened as inalterable (not even God can change the past) and cleave to timeless tradition, yet we ever reshape what we inherit for current need.” When observing Louisbourg with a historical narrative it was an English fortress, but observing from a social narrative there was two different identities found at Louisbourg, the English and the French. With a widening gap between the English and French Canadians, what better way to try and sew it up by memorializing the great Fortress as two imperial legacies.
The Fortress of Louisbourg is now a meeting ground between two identities where their heritage is celebrated and preserved within the fort.
By: Kayla Samson
Lowenthal, David. The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1998.The Celtic Colours International Festival



The Celtic Colours International Festival

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The Celtic Colours International Festival was started in 1997 as a means for Nova Scotians to celebrate their Scottish heritage. This is particularly focused however, in Cape Breton where the festival is based and where scotish sentiment and pride is particularly felt. The festival is frequently focused around highland activities, music, and most importantly, tourist revenues, being one of the largest economic draws for the Island well known for its economic hardships following the centralization and closing of many major local industries such as coal mining and steel.
Where this 9-day festival becomes more complicated, and enters the conversation of imagined communities, nation building, and usable pasts is when one realized how much of our self-evidently ancient Highland traditions is when one begins to look into how much of these acts were created or transplanted by class-conscious middle class creatures of culture, and how through government intervention this notion of “tartarising” NS became a provincial and eventually national dialogue on the character of Nova Scotians. This is not to say that NS doesn’t truly have a Scottish history, with the Scottish immigrants aboard the Hector in Pictou County being a well recorded and celebrated arrival, along with the thousands upon thousands of immigrants who followed, settling all across NS centering in Cape Breton.
However, this Festival does show the provincial zenith of the tartarisation of NS in the 50’s following thirty years of depression, as a means to reinvent the marginalized Nova Scotian as the pure and folksy highlander, which fit well with the anti-modernist ideals that tourists at the time were extremely interested in buying into. Many of these traditions and artefacts were created or reinterpreted with this goal of revenue in mind, “rediscovering” its Scottish roots in the form or folklore and handicrafts, and presented to the tourists in the most consumer friendly manner possible.
This desire to present NS as a nostalgic haven of the golden age led to unexpected developments, such as the creation of the NS tartan, which allowed all nova scotians to display this Scottish pride, even if they themselves were of a different ancestry, an act which took the highland character from the rural towns of Cape Breton and applied it to all of the “Essentially Scottish” Nova Scotia.
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This acceptance of newly implemented traditions, and Nova Scotia’s overwhelming acceptance of them as true and historical, shows the power of “usable pasts” and how a nations history can be reinterpreted to fit any national need, in this case the need to create a tourism industry, and how the state by financing festivals like this to allow the general population to celebrate its Scottish culture (be it real or not) demonstrates the creation of an imagined community of the Scottish Canadian, who can all relate and connect to (as well as hopefully purchase) these cultural symbols such as the kilt and the bagpipe to represent their hearty tough NS image, as well as the anti-modernist undertones used to repaint provincial economic trouble. People everywhere can now purchase a NS tartan kilt, and celebrate their provinces new history as their own, creating a more stable collective culture taken from the unstable realm of history.cpt10542800_high.jpg

- Kevin Fallis