The history of Canada involves many elements that should cause its citizens to feel proud of its origins. At the same time, there are undoubtedly events that occurred and ideas that flourished that make one question having this pride. Canada, like most countries that were formed centuries ago, is somewhat of a mixed bag: it has a unique history in some respects but also follows a trajectory that is common to countries that wanted to expand their empires regardless of the consequences to the unfortunate people in their weight. This essay will support the position that it is realistic to regard Canada as a wonderful country with a colorful history that has elements which cause embarrassment.
There are many significant events in Canadian history from the period spanning 1800-1885 that make one proud to be a Canadian. For example, the purchase at Rupert’s Land took a large step towards Western expansion that substantially increased the landmass that was known as Canada. The Red River Rebellion was another instance of reasons to feel proud of Canadian history because this represented a populist movement by people who were resisting their treatment that was an unfortunate collateral damage aspect of the Western expansion. The Numbered Treaties events during this time provided an example of the government offering some degree of compromise with the people who already were living in the lands taken over by the government. This tradition was continued by the Northwest Rebellion in which the Metis also resisted the government takeover of their lands, and they opted to move further west themselves. Finally, the Canadian Railroad System represented a significant advancement that allowed people to move further west and continue to settle in areas that had previously been inaccessible.
This very same history can be reframed to exemplify why it is not easy to feel proud of this time in Canada’s history. The government’s determination to push westward occurred despite trampling on the rights of people that had already been living in these areas. To their credit, the native people and the Metis resisted in various ways and aggressively, but the government appeared to prevail anyway. The callous disregard for the dignity and worth of the people who had formerly lived in these areas is not something to be proud of since the acquisition of land and property took priority over human rights and social justice issues. In one of the readings, there were two voices heard which expressed regret and sadness about both the plight of the settlers and that of the indigenous people; the settlers were tired and defeated by the difficult lives that they were involved in, and the indigenous people were demoralized and felt that their culture was being taken away from them. This type of activity persisted into the next century as well, when the Canadian government ruthlessly took a colonialist perspective in ruling the country, leaving the native peoples out in the cold and completely diminished by government actions.
In any event, I believe that the history of Canada still bears a great deal that makes me proud. The perseverance of the early settlers and the determination to create a country separate from the United States that was economically sound and socially advanced resulted in this tremendous landmass becoming its own country with its own identity. I am well aware that this included an extremely ruthless tendency to step on the people that had actually displaced. While that part of the history is certainly not something to be proud of, unfortunately, many great nations have some aspects of their story that should have been handled differently. Canada is no exception: it did what it felt it had to do to promote the nation into a state of grayness for the majority of its people, and ideally, it will take responsibility for undoing the damage that it inflicted on the people that were left behind in the 19th century.