Choose an event from Canada’s past or present (social, political, environmental, or economic) and describe / illustrate (show cause and effect) how this event influenced / influences all four of the quadrants. Provide images / primary source evidence where possible.
D-Day, specifically what happened at the eighty-kilometre stretch of Juno Beach, is a very significant event in Canadian history and plays an important role in shaping Canadian identity. It occurred on June 6, 1944 and turned the tide in favour of the Allied powers’ victory during World War II. This event connects to the political aspect because Canada aligned itself with the Allied forces. After months of planning and training, the attack was launched under the command of the United States General Dwight Eisenhower. As the French civilians were liberated, one Jean Houel recalls seeing soldiers in their British styled uniforms and cheering, “Here they are, the [English] Tommies.” But one soldier corrected him proudly in French, “je suis Canadien.” Houel was surprised to meet someone who spoke his own language. The French continue to remember the sacrifices the Canadian Armed forces made; there are several memorials, including a Canadian War Cemetery and a private museum called the Juno Beach centre in Courseulles. On June 6th, the people living in the villages along Juno Beach parade through the streets with maple leaf flags. This ties into the social aspect, as the French recognize what the Canadians have done for them and continue to be thankful. This event also took its toll on Canada’s economy because it was the largest invasion fleet in history, with seven thousand vessels of all types. Not to mention the numerous supplies necessary for this operation. It affected the environment in Normandy as artillery launched a barrage on the beach, which was set on fire afterwards. German bunkers were destroyed, and the environment was heavily altered by all the gunfire.
Does your event represent a step towards creating and maintaining a coherent Canadian identity, or does it move Canada more clearly in the direction of Trudeau’s discussion of a “postnational” state?
I think that Juno Beach serves to form a more cohesive Canadian identity, because the soldiers had a united goal to liberate France from the German defenders. It shows Canada’s continuous struggle for peace, and willingness to help its allies, Britain and America. As well, it maintains the Francophone aspect of our identity as Quebec soldiers fought on D-Day and they spoke fluently with the French civilians. Canadian forces have intervened in many conflicts, including ones as dangerous as the Rwandan Genocide. These peacekeeping missions, though dwindling, still continue on today. 130 Canadian personnel have sacrificed their lives during peace missions, but this number pales in comparison to the 340 lives lost at Juno Beach. Out of the British Army Group, Canada suffered the most casualties of any division during the Battle of Normandy. Though the Canadian soldiers were outgunned, outmanned, and outnumbered, they won against all odds, advancing against the best troops that the enemy had. Many soldiers were young and inexperienced, but this just shows that Canadians have the courage to keep striving for peace.
In your opinion, is there any value in trying to define a specific Canadian identity, or should we abandon this idea towards a more open and global idea of nationhood? Why?
Trying to force all Canadians under one collective identity to capture our diverse traits is both difficult and unnecessary. Canada is home to some of the most diverse cities in the world, such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary. So many immigrants and refugees are welcomed into Canada every year, and Indigenous people have been here even before the French and British colonized of Canada. Even just looking around the TALONS classroom, there are people of all different nationalities. And our world, in a sense, is growing ever smaller. With global platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram taking over, it is entirely plausible for people of different countries to interact and freely exchange ideas. Slowly, as different cultures merge and blend, things like identity start to blur together and become unclear. Now, Canada can move away from trying to fit into a stereotype and towards a more global view on nationalism. Earth becomes more and more compact with every technological advancement, but Canada only continues to expand.