Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 57

57 Arctic Yearbook 2014 assimilation policies to shed light on emerging issues in contemporary life. For example, the student in the quote above demonstrated an increased ability to see the present as a result of the past. Students are developing the tools to navigate challenges facing Canadian arctic jurisdictions. These include inequalities in access to education, health services and infrastructure compared to the rest of Canada and to other regions in the circumpolar north (Simon 2014). In a study of adolescents in Germany, Carlos Kolbl, a German scholar of historical sense and education, found that students moved past historical consciousness from family history to national history, and to history in foreign countries and continents (2009). A student in the territorial pilot study demonstrated this broader historical understanding: People should know different struggles that people have had with religion, like all over Europe things happened. Hitler destroyed the Jews and until recently people were allowed to shoot Indians in Australia. The Spanish destroyed all the Mayans and stuff like that. It happens everywhere. It’s not just a problem here in Canada or in the North. It’s everywhere in the world it happens. People should be aware and learn to love each other and not fight so much. Kolbl (2009) interpreted similar findings amongst students in Germany regarding the relevance that they attribute to history with reference to their own present and future lives. In the territorial study, a number of students in focus groups felt strongly that the experience of human rights abuses in Canada should be addressed beyond the North and linked to global contexts and histories. A student expressed frustration that the history of residential schools and assimilation, and how they have shaped the North, are not universally available to students across Canada, “How they can realize what we went through if they don’t even know we exist?” This students’ frustration that the North and its histories are invisible to much of Canada is shared by a group of leading authors who analyzed Canadian policies towards the North. In their book, Arctic Front, Defending Canada in the Far North, Coates, Morrison, Poeltzer and Lackenbauer (2008) argue that Canada has misunderstood Arctic sovereignty and what is required to achieve it, which is why the sovereignty debate continues to resurface. In the authors’ analysis, Arctic sovereignty could be achieved through investing in communities, northerners, and the institutions that will help them to advance regional and national interests. Noting similar patterns as the Grade Ten student did, the authors trace the history of the Canadian Government’s neglect of the region over a century; “Canada has spouted the rhetoric of Arctic engagement in the past and then done nothing” (Coates et al 2008: 189). This long-term lack of constructive engagement from the Canadian state has contributed to the significant gaps in education that territorial education departments are grappling with today. Critical Thinking: “It’s Not Something You Can Hide and Not Learn About” I read the book with my mum a little…she couldn’t believe that we were learning it…She thought…it’s good to know this since we live in the North, but it’s kind of harsh too. But then her and [my stepdad] got in a debate about it because I learned the Holocaust in Grade Six and so it’s basically the same thing and people have to know it, so it’s not something you can hide and not learn about. An Ethical Space for Dialogue About Difficult History