Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Honour Guard as she arrives to take part in Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday July 1, 2010.
Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Redefining Canadian identity? Canada and the New Colonialism

activehistory.ca a website whose goal is to connect Canadian historians to a wider public has published an article which suggests “the Canadian government… [has] sought to align Canada with and remind Canadians of our ties to the United Kingdom and the Monarchy.”

In his article “Canada and the New Colonialism”, posted Tuesday (July 23) Jon Weier, a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Western University, points out that Canadian forces members will no longer wear the Maple Leaf as a symbol of rank.

The Maple Leaf is to be replaced on the shoulder boards and collar tabs of Canadian soldiers’ uniforms with the crown or pip that had been used to indicate rank in the Canadian Forces before unification in 1968. Further, the most junior Canadian enlisted personnel will be referred to by new rank designations. These new rank designations, and the re-introduced pip and crown, mirror rank and rank indicators that are used in the British armed services, and represent a return, in the words of former Defence Minister Peter McKay, “to the insignia that was so much a part of what the Canadian Army accomplished in Canada’s name.”

Weier also points to other Canadian government initiatives:

These initiatives have included hanging pictures of the Queen in all Canadian embassies and offices overseas, an increase in royal visits, and, just last year, a proposal to share consular resources with the United Kingdom. They have also been reflected in the themes and narratives used in the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, and will likely be apparent in the upcoming anniversary celebrations of the outbreak of the First World War in 2014 and of Confederation in 2017.

After exploring the topic in the article Weier asks:

What are new Canadians supposed to make of this new emphasis, especially those who have made Canada their home in the decades since the Canadian government started emphasizing our shared multicultural future? How are generations of Canadians who have embraced an increasingly multicultural and republican idea of Canadian identity supposed to react when the government presents us with an identity that values the colonial trappings many have worked so hard to shed? Why do we focus on only one aspect of our heritage when Canada has always been the destination for immigrants from many different, non-Commonwealth, countries. Finally, how do we react to these new changes as historians, and what is our responsibility in the face of this new/old idea of who we are?

More information:
Canada and the New Colonialism by Jon Weir – here
Active History website – activehistory.ca




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