Have you ever thought about your last name and where it might have come from? It's hard for us today to believe that there was a time, not that long ago, when many people didn't have a last name. So, where did last names come from, and were they assigned or randomly selected? In fact, there are a number of ways your ancestors might have first acquired the surname you currently use.
Now that Black History Month is over (didn't take long) I feel more comfortable in saying that I very much dislike it. Black people are more than a month, and are more than several prominent black figures. Black history should be a regular part of educational curriculum and media programming, yet it is differentiated and set aside, just as black people were not so long ago. How is this good?
If you're looking for a way to beat the winter blues, take a look at the circumstances that surrounded the marriages of your ancestors and discover what kind of lives they lived with their spouses. You could find a love story that warms your heart, if not your toes, this winter. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.
Type 1 diabetes was once lethal but thanks to the Nobel prize-winning research conducted at the University of Toronto in 1921-22, had become a controllable condition through daily injections of insulin derived from cattle and pigs. My father's story reminds me about the importance of universities as places that create the space for big "what if" and "I wonder" questions.
Turkey Day is upon us, and millions of Americans will be getting together with family and friends for food, football, and fun. Lots of food, actually. The average American will ingest an estimated 4,500 calories on that one day. Here are more facts about (American) Thanksgiving. Or as we call it in Canada: Thursday.
She explains what the "Shoah", or Holocaust was. She states that the reason she is being so slow and re-explaining basics to a room full of adults is that there are a lot of 'Orientali', or Asians, in our class, and they don't know about this period of history, especially the Chinese. She says this several times. I can hardly believe what I'm hearing.
Women have been decidedly ignored when it comes to time travelling. As I was thinking about this I came across Anna Smith's recent article on this very topic in The Guardian. Time travelling women are indeed rare, especially in sci-fi film. Smith notes in particular that Rachel McAdams has had three roles in time travelling movies, only to remain firmly rooted in the her own timeline in each one.
If David Gilmour is indeed refusing to teach literature by women, queer, Chinese, and Canadian authors, then he is actively excluding them from the history that he imparts to his students. My fear for the future is that students are being denied the opportunity to learn from, be inspired by, and empathize with literature that doesn't fall under the white-hetero-male domain.
On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire and head of one of the most powerful families in Europe at the time, is on a visit to Sarajevo in Bosnia, one of the provinces of the empire. The aforementioned title character of the novel, Johan Thoms, is assigned the task of being Franz Ferdinand's chaffeur during his visit. He fails, and indirectly causes World War One.
On June 1st 1866, a determined group of Civil War veterans boarded barges from Buffalo, crossed the Niagara River, and invaded Canada. The battle was small, as it lasted two days, and only saw 15 battleground deaths. It was plagued by inexperience, misunderstandings, screw ups, and failure on the Canadians' parts. But it shaped our nation.
To be Canadian is to always feel just a little different than the cool kids. How can we compete when every one of us is an immigrant, or descendant of immigrants, and the mix of who we are changes constantly? Maybe we're asking the wrong question. If we took a closer look, we might find that we're cooler than we realize. Canadians have a unique relationship with our history. We're proud of the country we built, but ashamed of the steps we took to get here. For many of us, the easiest solution is to try not to look back at all. But when we don't know our history, we don't just miss out on a dusty old past. It makes it hard to imagine our future.
The Komagata Maru was introduced to me sandwiched between narratives of the Chinese Head Tax and Japanese Internment. It had no scope to breathe. No room for discussion and further explanation. And it was the only time I remember seeing people that looked like me in my school textbooks. But the Komagata Maru is more elusive. It took me years to unlearn the biases I had built up around the story, hear the voices of the pioneers and understand the history on its own terms.
This Women's Day I'm honoring a wise friend and foremother, Cecilie Scott. In mid-December, she called me to her bedside. In a hoarse voice, Cecilie recounted a story she hoped to write before she died about the lengths to which women were forced to go to end their pregnancies before Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973.
With so many international atrocities committed against women on a daily basis, I as a woman in the west sometimes feel that there is very little that we can do. But living in the lap of luxury doesn't remove the sadness one feels when they see the news reports. I feel overwhelmed by the state of women and believe we should act more. This International Women's Day let us educate ourselves and the society at large.