Recently, just before the Centre Block was closed in January 2019 for 10 – 15 years, I took some photos with my phone; photos of carvings in the marble which abound in the Centre Block. I had long been curious about them, and because this building would be closed for so may years, I seized the opportunity to ‘snap away’ at things above eye level.
Coming from the West Indies (now a proud Canadian), ALL of the Canadian History I have read and taught, began with Samuel de Champlain in New France. So when I examined this photo above, I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of things:
- These people represent the EXACT period of Canadian History I have been researching in the past year.
- When asked, most people have NO IDEA who these people are.
- Most people do not know ANYTHING about that time period, or HOW and WHY it is tied to Canadian History.
So, if you are wondering HOW and WHY I happened to be researching that period of Canadian History, I’ll tell you… it is because of two subscribers to my email list who have been engaging and interacting with the content that l post.
You can join the email list when the pop-up box appears on this page . It says ‘Join My Mailing List’.
So here’s the story: In August of 2018, while still living in Pittsburgh, I was about to launch a course on The 10 Christian Fathers of Confederation. I had tested the lessons in a FB Live session with a few people, so I could refine it before launching it on a teaching platform. Around that time, two different pieces of advice came to me from two people on my email list.
One person sent me an article dealing with the an issue that was current at the time. Sir John A Macdonald was on my list of Fathers of Confederation. The article referenced a 16 year old Native youth – Madyson Arscott, (Indygo Arscott) who was leading a charge to ‘decolonize the schools’, starting in Toronto.
This youth sat in a BORING Canadian History class where the subject matter did not acknowledge the Natives story. He heard nothing about HIS history in Canada. But then he heard a sentence which, in his mind, validated the narrative about European colonizers treating the Natives as ‘less than second class citizens’.
The sentence alleged that Sir John A Macdonald referred to them as ‘savages’ in the context of the Residential Schools. Madyson therefore started a movement in the Native community to ‘decolonize the schools’, aka, remove Sir John A Macdonald’s name from schools and public places in Ontario and to expunge his memory from Canadian History at the same time. This issue will be discussed at a later date.
The call resonated with Native communities as far as British Columbia. With effective lobbying, Sir John A’s statue was subsequently removed from City Hall in Victoria British Columbia, and his face from the Canadian$10 dollar bill.
The second piece of advice from an email subscriber was an encouragement to remember to tell the Native’s History with compassion; to tell it from a Christian perspective, in light of the current events swirling around the issue of Sir John A Macdonald and the Residential Schools.
So I did my due diligence by asking some questions: What was the relationship between the Natives and the first settlers? How and Why did it change? What aspects of Native/Settler relationship are still negatively affecting the community today?
Now many years ago, I had already heard that the Huguenots were the first permanent settlers of Canada. But information has been sketchy and lacking in official textbooks. Remember, my West Indian context limited my ability to fully understand what that meant to Canada. Even people I know who boast of having a Huguenot ancestry, could not point me in the direction of reliable information.
So I started reading about the Huguenots. Then I realized that the word simply meant ‘French Protestants’. Then I read about the Huguenot colonizers who had been given special commission by King Henry IV of France (de Tonnetuit and Du Gua), which led me to read about the Edict of Nantes, which led to The French Wars of Religion, which led to Jeanne d’Albret, which led to Catherine de Medici, which led to her husband King Henry II of France, which led me to his FATHER!!! King Francis I of France.
Friends, scroll back to the top and take a good look at my (poor) photo. On one end it says Francis I (1515-1547) and the other end it says Louis XIV (1643 -1715). By God’s grace, that is the exact period of history I had already begun to investigate. And this is a record of Canada’s history ‘Pre-Champlain’ and ‘Post-Champlain’. And it sits right over the left doorway which leads to the House of Commons.
The beginning of the Protestant Reformation in France and the birth of the ‘Huguenots’ as a people began under the reign of King Francis 1. Persecution of the Huguenots began with him, worsened under Henry II and his wife Catherine de Medici, and came to full eruption under Louis XIV, who boasted that when he came to the throne, there were about 1 million Huguenots, and in a few years they were reduced to somewhere between 1500-1000.
I intend to tell the stories as I find them. Some of them are extremely unpleasant. But if we are to build tomorrow’s future, we need to look back at yesterday’s past.
There are over 40 stories to be told. These will be told with animation and excitement.
You will never see Canadian History as BORING again! Ever!.
Stay tuned to hear, as George Harvey used to say, ‘The Rest of The Story’.
If you would like to download this information, go HERE.