Making history alive in the classroom
Each year as the poppies begin to bloom on street corners across Ontario, our ever diminishing supply of World War 2 and Korean War Veterans are called upon by public, separate and private schools to tell their personal, and often heroic stories of life in this country's Armed Services in the last century. And not without good reason.
Our High School textbooks have been sanitized to such an extent that they make no reference to the "Battle of the Atlantic" waged by The Royal Canadian Navy, Canada's Merchant Navy and Britain's Royal Navy to keep the flow of food, trucks, tanks, ammunition and supplies-vital to Britain's (and later, Russia's) survival against the Nazi threat.
Sir Winston Churchill said: "Of all the Battles of the War, the Battle of the Atlantic caused me the most concern-if we had lost it we'd have lost the War!"
Canada's Royal Canadian Navy and Merchant Navy struggled on alone for over two years from 1939-1942 keeping Britain supplied with over 1 Million Tons of precious cargo every week from our East Coast ports-yet in current History textbooks, it is as though it never happened!. Hamiltons steel mills produced at full capacity to produce the raw material for much of this Cargo-yet the City is not even mentioned in these textbooks.
The Battle of the St. Laurence (the only instance since 1812 in which Canadian territory has been attacked by a foreign power) is not mentioned at all. A single paragraph is employed to describe the Canadian participation in the long, bloody struggle! There is very limited information about the Korean War veterans fought and died or why, or even the impact their sacrifices may have had upon the Korean people and their now vibrant economy & democracy of today.
In Ontario High Schools-Grade 10 History is a compulsory subject.Due to the large numbers of students in many of our High Schools, however, History is taught in two semesters- one in the Fall and one in the Spring. So, fully 50% of these Grade 10 History students do not receive any personal insight or relating of experiences from our World War 2 and Korean War Veterans.
FRIENDS OF HMCS HAIDA, A Canadian Registered charity in Hamilton is working to bridge this information gap! We created the "School Visit" program which brings these and countless other stories of Canadian experiences and sacrifices in the Wars of the last Century to High School Students across Ontario in this Century.
These one hour long presentations include a study of Canadian, the Royal Canadian Navy and HMCS HAIDA's contributions in the last century using slide and archival film footage and, most importantly, Veteran Volunteer participation.
To learn how you can help in bringing these very important messages to a High School near you, please call Friends of HMCS HAIDA: 905-523-0682 or e-mail our educational Director, Mike Vencel firstname.lastname@example.org