I want to talk about the the 1940s to 1960s. This period In Canada witnessed the creation of a confident modern Canada it was the making of the social state that we’re so familiar with and so reliant upon those universal services of healthcare and education pensions, and being looked after by our peers. Universal services are expensive. It relied upon a society that was prepared to work in full-time jobs with well-paying jobs. And it was the responsibility of a good citizen to have one of those jobs and conti, contribute to the body politic.
And politicians work to make it happen. What they needed to do is find jobs. In the 1950s John Diefenbaker was elected on a campaign of Roads to Resources and he, he in one of his speech he said, “Sir John A MacDonald open to the West. I see an O Canada in the North. We will open that north land for development. Jobs jobs obs for hundreds of thousands of Canadian people! A new vision, a new hope, a new soul for Canada!”
And his government went to work. The, the dep – the very appropriately named Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources put piece in 1960 that said, it was an address to all Canadians, “We own the North. It belongs to us. Canadians for this reason must look to the north to see what it’s good for, to see how we can use it.”
One of the branches of the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources was Parks Canada at the time, and Parks was designated to be a promoter of this new vision of the Canadian North. Which was somewhat problematic in that the Historic Sites Branch said that, “ we are actually used to dealing with the long-settled areas of Canada that actually have a history. And on this scale, well actually the north doesn’t have any history, so we’re not entirely sure what you want us to do.”
But that was not a problem. The absence of a real history, in the north, was not important to the politicians. The establishment of Klondike National Historic Sites had little to do with the past. The historic site was, like the Roads to Resources, a vision of the modern Canadian future. the site features the establishment of state management. It’s got the police, covered, centralized administration, successful resource development, and the associated economic development of a modern Northern community. Ist was about jobs jobs jobs.
While First Nations were not the direct target of Northern development, they were definitely the victims of it. And the use of future-focused commemorations of an imaginary past made indigenous people disappear. They were all an attempt to make them vanish. The response of Yukon First Nations was “Together Today For Our Children Tomorrow,” a vision for a shared future, and one that we continue to seek today.