All citizens need to be wary of powerful figures who use racist fear-mongering for political ends.
The symbols by which we understand our country and ourselves have histories that are more complicated than we might often realize or consider, and Canadians may have very different appraisals of and feelings toward any one symbol. In the new book Symbols of Canada, editors Michael Dawson, Catherine Gidney, and Donald Wright take the opportunity to present stories about the pasts and possible futures of symbols including the beaver, the totem pole, hockey, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Anne of Green Gables.
They say their book “invites readers to explore the ways in which Canadians employ symbols, are shaped by symbols, and (although this might seem un- Canadian) argue over symbols.” This is something they hope will allow us “to better understand Canada’s past and present — and to anticipate and shape its future.”
In a chapter about the canoe, part of which follows here, sports and leisure historian Jessica Dunkin considers the history of the iconic watercraft, from the variety of designs and uses produced and made by First Nations living in different environments, to ways the vessel was used by settlers for work and leisure, to the canoe’s importance as part of the present-day Indigenous reclamation of traditional practices and relationships with the land. Her book Canoe and Canvas will be published in 2019.