CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 29 . . . . April 1, 2011
The October Crisis is part of the series of graphically-illustrated history books about important events that helped define the Canadian character. While most books in this series provide basic information and generally represent the different sides of the issue discussed, The October Crisis has errors that will confuse young readers about this significant event in modern Canadian history.
On Page 7, an explorer is drawn telling aboriginals that he can get the "best quality skins in the area." The next panel shows a competing European declaring to an Aboriginal, "That trader will charge you far more than those skins are worth! My skins come at a fair price."
The speech balloons seem to be directed at the wrong characters in the story. Wasn't it the Aboriginal people who sold animal skins to the Europeans, and the Europeans who competed in offering a better price?
The role of the Roman Catholic Church is not explained adequately on Page 8. The panel there assumes an understanding that the Church helped buoy up the rule of the elite over the ordinary Quebecois from the end of the Seven Year War until the 1960s (although the date 1763 is not included in the book).
It's a big topic, but one that requires exposition so that a young reader can understand what led to the disaffection of Quebecers with their position in the Canadian federation, what led the Canadian government to impose military rule on its own people, and why the lessons of the October Crisis are so important to remember.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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