Picture, in your mind's eye: Montréal, Québec,
late January, the dead of winter. How's the weather there? The
less said, the better.
Swarms of people are crowded into Montréal's vast network
of subterranean malls and train stations. Some of them are seeking
refuge from the Arctic weather, some of them can't wait to get
into the Arctic weather.
And yet a few more are on their way to a conference. A conference
that is happening for the first time ever, a conference that
will unite the choicest aspects of Canada, that will consolidate
national identity, that will boost morale, and heighten true
patriotism, and of course, the cocktails.
So what could this be? And the answer is quite simple - a
one of a kind conference on the importance of Canadian History,"Giving The Past
A Future", hosted by the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada,
from January 29 - 31, 1999.
The activities were endless, the opportunities to learn were
marvellous, the time span - too short! After all, a mere weekend
was hardly enough time for me to attend all of the sessions on
the teaching of history throughout the nation, let alone interview
heads of major historical foundations and try every weird French
sauce on the hotel menu.
The event was genuinely engaging, as it was presented in a
very accessible and fun way. The booths dealing with such issues
as Technology in the Classroom, History Online, and Archaeological
Excavations provided invaluable opportunities for both students
and adults to experience the past by living it, learning about
it, and giving it a future.
As a student, my task was to document the conference by interviewing
such figures as the Programs Manager of History Television and
eating as much free food as possible. I also attended various
workshop sessions, where presenters from across the country discussed
and shared their positive and negative experiences concerning
the teaching and the relevance of history in Canada. Many of
these sessions were entertaining as well as interesting, and
lent the conference great meaning and worth.
Despite the work that had to be completed, there wasn't a
dull moment the entire time, given the fact that I had the privilege
of having come in contact with Canadian students from sea to
All things considered, I had a fabulous weekend. It would
not be an exaggeration on my part to declare that I left the
conference on Sunday with a stronger sense of national identity,
not to mention a few extra pounds.