Each year we have a new theme. This year’s theme is: “My Canada”
As you know, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2017 which makes it a good time to look deeply into the stories we tell ourselves about this country. The fabric of Canada looks vastly different than it did in 1867, so it’s time to reflect on Canada’s past and present. What does your Canada look like?
When planning your submission(s), try to thinks about the following keywords and questions related to the theme. Please note that the questions and keywords above are intended to help you to think on the theme. However, they shouldn’t limit your thoughts as the theme can mean a lot more than those questions and keywords. Therefore, when composing your work, feel free to be creative. Just remember you want to present your ideas in a way that will inspire the reader to think and become aware of the importance of the theme.
Keywords & Key concepts:
• Transitions of identities
– Indigenous Canadians, French & British settlers, increased immigration to settle the lands includes other European nationalities who face discrimination, as newer waves come older nationalities face less discrimination.
– Michael Ondatje’s “In The Skin of a Lion” provides an interesting glance into Toronto in the 1920s.
• Identity as created by social and historical context.
• Social and cultural identity as tied to systems of ideology and who holds the power of society.
Questions to consider:
• What does Canada mean to you? What about a Canadian identity?
• If we all have such different experiences, then how do we define Canadian identity? What makes this country, a country?
– Is it just the government and its institutions or is there something distinctly Canadian? Is there a shared experience that we can all name?
• There is a description that Canadian literature is a story of survival. First it is survival in the environment, then it is survival of culture. Do you think this is true? Do you think this is reflective of the overall narrative of Canada?
• If we compare Canada to the US, we come away with differences from socioeconomics to political and judicial systems to culture. There are similarities as well as differences, so is there something distinct about these different societies? If yes, what do you think that is?
– The social policies of Scandinavian countries are much closer to our own, but their culture is different. So how do we define Canadian identity or Canadian culture?
– Is culture and identity the same thing?
• So what makes it my Canada, or your Canada, or our Canada?
• How do you interact with the idea of Canada? How do you feel others interact with the idea of Canada?
• If you had to explain Canada to someone elsewhere in the world, how would you do it or how have you done it?
– What are the most important or significant things to convey about Canada?
• Who are some people who embody Canadian identity or Canadian values?
• Are there any books you can point to and say “This represents Canadian literature.”?
• Do you think Canada has good policies for other countries to adopt? Which are effective and in what areas can we do better? For example: economic policy vs. environmental policy.
• What can we do to improve the dialogue surrounding Canada’s history of Residential Schools?
– Do you think the Truth and Reconciliation document is a good start?
– How can Canada as a country—newcomers, people born here, those who have lived here for a long time—address the history of Residential Schools?
• How does our handling of various refugee issues define our identity?
– Do you think Canada’s position as a country of refuge is accurate? What other ways can we help to make the world a kinder and more just place?
– Does Canada’s behaviour historically push us to act a certain way or to make up for certain shortcomings?
– How do you think Canada should deal with its historical and present instances of discrimination?