Canada's History : 2020-08-01

TRADING POST : 33 : 33


1970. This led some of those seeking greater autonomy in Quebec, as well as terrorist groups like the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), to invoke memories of oppression during the Second World War. These new ways of looking at the past often diluted the memory of the contributi­ons of the tens of thousands of French-speaking Canadians who had enlisted in the war against the fascists. The wartime forced relocation of Japanese Canadians also took decades to come to light. By the late 1970s, the descendant­s of those whose civil liberties had been trampled began campaignin­g for redress. This culminated in a formal apology and financial restitutio­n in 1988. Canadians came to see that, in the war for democratic ideals and to free the oppressed overseas, the wartime Canadian state had also oppressed some of its own citizens and had curtailed civil liberties for all. The wartime pain over the loss of forty-five thousand Canadians killed in uniform dimmed over time, but it remained a jagged scar for countless people across the country who had lost close family members. One of them was Jean Margaret Crowe, whose husband died during wartime RCAF operations. She wrote about her grief, loneliness, and envy for those who were able to move on: “Nobody ever asked us what it was like to be a widow at 22 or 23. Nobody gave us any counsel.” After the victory, and during the building of a new Canada, there were parents who had outlived their children, widows who never remarried, children who grew up not knowing a father, and veterans who struggled with physical and mental injuries. Their war never ended. C anada’s colossal contributi­on to the Allied victory in the Second World War led to unexpected changes across the country, from the emergence of the social-security state to advances in culture, from being more intensely tied to the United States to a new willingnes­s to engage with the world. Canada moved forward as a wealthy nation, more certain of what it meant to be Canadian. From 1945 on, Canadians enjoyed an extended period of growth and change. Canada’s wartime service and sacrifice were not the only reasons for this transforma­tion. Neverthele­ss, waging a necessary war against the Nazis and the other fascists had left Canada a very different country. The world that emerged from the ruins of 1945 was set on a new trajectory, and Canadians — veterans and others — were unsure of what the future held. They would work together to forge their new destiny in the unfinished project that is Canada. 33 AUGUST–SEPTEMBER 2020