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Let’s face it, our favourite classes are the ones with movies. If you’re around my age, you remember being excited by the sound of squeaky wheels and rattling, since it usually meant you were watching a movie in class. The same is still true in university, whether you are a student, a TA, or a professor. However, it can be hard to find good films to show in classrooms that are engaging for students, but also historically accurate. A couple of months ago, there was a fascinating discussion on Eryk Martin’s Facebook timeline about recommended films for teaching pre-Confederation Canadian history. So, inspired by that discussion, and with his permission, I have put together a list of recommended films for teaching Canadian history.
This list is broken down into two parts: my personal recommendations, and recommendations from fellow history professors. I would especially like to thank Stephanie Pettigrew, Donica Belisle, Carmen Nielson, Matthew Hayday, Ian Mosby, Adele Perry, Jenny Ellison, Janis Thiessen, Kesia Kvill, Sarah Dowling, and Liz Huntingford for their fantastic suggestions. Also, I have roughly organized the films and videos chronologically. In my recommendations, I have further divided the films and videos from each other, and included some additional ones I would like to show in class, but haven’t yet.
A couple of important notes or warnings: please make sure that when you are showing a feature film in a classroom that you have the appropriate license to do so. In other words, make sure the copy of the film you are screening has been approved for classroom or public screenings. If you are using the film through your institution’s library, you should be fine, but it’s always good to check. Second, as a recent discussion on Twitter initiated by Tina Adcock has shown, content/trigger warnings are important. I have listed the ones that I think are relevant below, but always use caution when screening films to avoid doing harm to your students.
Also, my husband wanted to name this blog post “Class-y” films, but my better sense vetoed. 😉
Thanks to Maddie Knickerbocker, Leah Wiener, Sean Carleton, Stephanie Pettrigew, and, especially, Melissa Shaw for their help with this post. And special thanks to Ariel Gordon at the University of Manitoba Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book!*
Several months ago, when the University of Manitoba Press asked me to review the most recent edition of John S. Milloy’s A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986, I was initially hesitant. Not only am I not a specialist in this field, but I kept wondering whether or not we needed another settler review of a book by a settler historian about Indigenous history in Canada. The jury is still out, but, after I finished reading the book, I do have some thoughts I’d like to share.
A quick caveat. This will not be a traditional book review. I may have literally written a guide to doing them, but since this book is nearly 20 years old and has already been reviewed numerous times, what follows is more of a meditation upon reading this book.
What’s this? An extra blog post? Surprise!
So for the past couple of weeks, there have been several debates regarding the roles that Sir Hector-Louis Langevin and Sir John A. Macdonald played in establishing the residential school system. First, there was considerable debate about the renaming of Langevin Block, including Matthew Hayday’s post, Tabatha Southey’s column, Serge Gauthier’s op-ed, and David Tough’s Twitter essay. Then earlier this week, Sean Carleton wrote an op-ed for The Star arguing that Macdonald was the real architect of the residential school system. A great deal of debate on both of these subjects has ensued on Twitter. So, I have compiled all of the relevant tweets together on Storify, and organized then chronologically so that everyone, including those not on “the Twitter,” would be able to follow along. Enjoy!
And just in case, please let me know if I’ve missed anything that should be included!