Childhood understandings of politics

While I rarely post strong views in full-fledged blog posts about current political issues (those are more likely to be followed on Twitter or talked about in person or something but not nearly as likely to make up a full-fledged blog post), I think now is a good time to type about some of my understanding of Canadian politics as a kid.

I was a French immersion student. And while it took until junior high for me to understand Pierre Elliott Trudeau's role in making our country officially a multicultural one with a bilingual language policy, I understood as early as 4th or 5th grade just how much of an influence that idealistic view of Canada had on my feeling truly Canadian. I wrote a poem for a contest of some sort celebrating the official languages of this country right around then and while I highly doubt that it was a very good poem, that sticks with me as an important experience. I mean, I spoke both languages (I still do) and even at that age, I was quickly realizing the role that racism had in developing my identity: I looked different than the other kids in my class and as I got a certain amount of negative attention (to put it mildly) because of these differences.

In junior high the racism intensified, but I fantasized about a Canada where racism actually didn't exist, where differences were really truly appreciated, and where if people were going to shout racial slurs at me they'd at least get the race somewhat right. My wishes were pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but I loved the Canada that I knew of on paper with peacekeepers, environmentalism, bilingualism and multiculturalism. I remembered (vaguely) the whole Quebec referendum, but felt strongly that Quebec ought to stay part of this country (particularly once I visited that province in ninth grade with my class), partly, of course because of the emphasis on French Canadian history in my French immersion classes.

I think this was around the time that I discovered the wonders of CD-Rom Encyclopedias and the Prime Ministers of Canada CD-Rom. Crazily enough this resource still exists: Prime Ministers of Canada though of course on a website rather than just an outdated CD-Rom. At the time I was pretty fascinated by Canadian politics in the sense that seeing all this fascinating information about Canadian politicians of the past was interesting to me. But I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to current goings on.

Now it is the era of my finding news via social media and keeping up with major news stories online. I still hear things via traditional media (but I don't read the Edmonton Journal every morning when I get up like I used to when I still lived at my parents' home), but that's more of an exception rather than the norm. I would say that I'm more engaged/interested in politics than I was when I was a teen-early adult… but my fascination with how things are and how things were began with those origins as a child.