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.
The significant event from Canada’s past or present I have chosen is Paul Henderson’s game winner in game 8 of the 1972 Summit Hockey Series. The Summit Series was a set of 8 hockey games between Canada and Russia. This wasn’t just any hockey series because for the first time ever, it would be Canada’s best vs Russia’s best. For a little context, at the time Russia was dominating the international stage having won three consecutive gold medals at the Olympics and 7 World Championships. At this time there were no players in the NHL from Russia. On the other side, Canada’s best players controlled the NHL with 90% of its’ players coming from the country, but as professionals, they were not allowed to participate in the Olympics. The Summit Series was created to see who the best really was and while, on the surface, this was only an athletic competition, it also represented the deep political conflict between east and west, communism and democracy, Russia and Canada.
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?
Henderson’s game winner in game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series represents a step towards creating and maintaining a coherent Canadian identity. As we have discussed in class, one of the arguments for why America is more patriotic and has a more set identity than Canada is because they’ve had to fight for their independence while we’ve done so in more of a quiet political way. The 1972 Summit Series was in fact a war of our own, not for independence but rather for recognition of athletic talent and the values that drive our success as a nation. After the final game, Canadian captain and star, Phil Esposito, said the Summit Series “was our society against theirs, and as far as we were concerned it was a damn war…”. Phil was absolutely right, this series represented a conflict in cultural beliefs and political values, as millions of people watched the games on television and caught a glimpse of the opposing cultures while doing so. Being a relatively new country, Canada didn’t have a long history and defined representation of it’s beliefs and political ways, while Russia was notorious for their communistic way of life. Behind this “war” on Russia was a statement of Canadian strength and the importance of it’s values that only with political and social freedom can a country be great. For once Canada had something to stand behind; yes the figure was the Canadian hockey team, but through their style of play and the uniforms they wore, they inadvertently represented freedom and hard work. The goal by Henderson was proof, for Canadians, that Canada wasn’t America’s little sibling, or a juvenile country, but a nation connected by it’s passion, shared culture, and love of a simple sport.
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?
In my opinion, there is no value in trying to define a specific Canadian identity based on the current definition of a nation. We should abandon this idea towards a more open and global idea of nationhood. The current definition of a nation is a large group of people united by common descent, history, or culture. Canada being a country that is mostly inhabited by immigrants, has a range of culture and history that is different for everyone. So instead of wasting time trying to define a country that’s not meant to be defined, we should be spending time creating a new meaning for nation. As Justin Trudeau said in 2015, “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. Those qualities are what make us the first postnational state”. Basically I interpreted this quote that we are a nation, because we are not. We are not the same, and we have never been the same and this history of diversity is what connects us. The history of not having a mainstream in Canada is something that all Canadians can connect to. So in conclusion, while we should not try to define a specific Canadian identity, this lack of identification is what makes Canada unique, and this is more valuable then trying to define our identity is a different or ‘open’ matter.