On this Canada Day, Canadians are facing calls for change-economic historians have been working hard to adjust


The deadly heat wave this week, Its new record temperatureThis is just one example of how the Canadian economy seems to be involved in change this Canada Day.

Emergency plan Accelerating the shift to electric vehicles The painful process of getting rid of Canada’s dependence on carbon-producing fuels is part of a longer list of economic earthquakes.

The country is currently adapting to a series of extraordinary events:

  • economic recession Caused by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
  • Some predict that the return of inflation after decades of absence will lead to Interest rate rise.
  • Government intervention in the economy has never been seen in decades after World War II.

But despite the difficulty in determining the country’s economic future in such a volatile era, historians are working hard to re-examine Canada’s economic history.

As a former economic hero, for example Henry Dundas, Egerton Ryerson with John A. MacDonald, Was dismantled from their pedestal, the discovery of unmarked graves of indigenous children and the black life issue movement of the past year opened people’s eyes to the long-standing economic injustice.

Founding narrative

One of the leaders in the reexamination is Angela Redish, an economic historian and professor at the University of British Columbia. Like most people who have studied Canadian economic history in the past few decades, she almost completely accepted ” The education of the founding narrative. Europe uses the St. Lawrence River to extract Canadian resources and its role in creating a strong industrial economy.

But as Redish began her own research, she also began to realize what was missing in the economic history text.

“Everyone knows the Paris Treaty and its implications for the Canadian economy,” Redish said, referring to the 1763 agreement that handed over most of North America to Britain.

“All the treaties of indigenous peoples do not even appear in the book,” she said.

The deaths of children in boarding schools in Canada are a tragic reminder of the other side of Canadian economic history. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Canadians are weaned from the heroic narrative of the explorer’s discovery of a large number of open spaces and the establishment of a rich country from sea to sea to sea. They may be shocked by the recent disclosure of the abuse and death of indigenous children here.

But the cruel migration of the primitive people of this land by European settlers is well known to historians.This is a process being described Classified as genocide by the Canadian Historical Society.

According to Kris Inwood, an economic historian at the University of Guelph, this is not the point of the traditional story at all.

Inwood said in an interview this week: “Unfortunately, people need to get people’s attention by discovering the spectacular sight of unmarked graves.” “But by our standards today, people are aware of how terrifying people’s behaviors were in the past. , This is obviously a good thing.”

in 1493: Uncover the new world created by ColumbusThe author Charles Man describes a densely populated native North American who was destroyed by the spread of European diseases first introduced by Spanish colonists, which made the continent’s population seem much smaller than before.

However, economic historians still dispute the extent of the disease’s impact.

As Inwood pointed out, the mortality rate for everyone in Canada in the 1800s was high, and children suffered the most, but it was not until the 1920s that mortality data were collected.

Recent research by economic historians Donna Feir, Rob Gillezeau, and Maggie Jones of the University of Victoria disputes the idea that indigenous peoples had been weakened before Europeans came to the Great Plains and killed bison.

The tallest man in the world

“Once the tallest person in the world, the generations of people born after the slaughter who depended on bison are the shortest,” they wrote A widely cited paper on the inhabitants of the plains.

Not only that, the deprivation of the means of economic success also has a long-term impact.

“Today, the per capita income of societies that previously relied on bison is 20% to 40% lower than the Native American average,” the paper said.

As one of the authors of popular textbooks Canadian Economic History, Herb Emery has a deep understanding of how changing perspectives have changed Canadians’ understanding of their economic history.

“The story we tell is about the importance of property rights and legal systems to ensure an efficient and successful capitalist economy,” Emery said in an email. “The blind spot lies in the initial expropriation.”

Before the Europeans came to kill the bison, the natives of the Great Plains were one of the tallest natives in the world. After slaughter, they are the shortest. (Three Lions/Getty Images)

As Feir pointed out, although the system for declaring ownership may be different and sometimes disputed in border conflicts, indigenous groups have firm ownership of agricultural or hunting land. When Europeans came here with their famous property rights, they simply ignored the existing property rights.

“So it’s weird to talk about rich land,” she said.

In fact, as Gilezeau pointed out, deportation from the traditional land where they provide a good life is inseparable from the ability of indigenous peoples to resist European diseases.

To this day, poverty can lead to negative health outcomes.

Gillezeau says that, as the plains bison hunters have shown, losing what makes them economically successful can have a lingering effect that has been proven in previous generations.

Improving the lives of many indigenous people and other people of color can be expensive and difficult.

Looking for a common story

Although economists may disagree on which events are the most important, Guillerzo said he did not see a strong opposition from Canada to the idea of ??expanding our concept of economic history. But the fact that the amendments were made almost entirely by settler scholars may distort these decisions.

Gillezeau said: “This profession is not as diverse as it should be. If you don’t have a say on the table, the conversation will be much slower.” “Having more black economists will change the industry.”

Redish is also worried about the lack of indigenous students in economics, which is a problem she is trying to correct at UBC.

Contrary to the popular view that history is a single and unchanging narrative, the economic historian I spoke to described it as a dynamic process that must take into account new developments such as climate change, new historical understanding, and changing public Values. This is a process that takes time.

“We should be committed to a common narrative,” Redish said. “I think this is what we have to do. But it is very challenging.”


Follow Tang on Twitter: @don_pittis





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