Category Archives: Social Studies

Golden Spruce: Synthesis

For my synthesis project, I wrote a few paragraphs summarizing some themes of the book with an accompanying image that I felt represented what I wrote. [See as follows:]



“We use our backyard as a toolkit, often without fully understanding what we’re taking, what we’re using, and what value it has. Everywhere we look around us, there are tress, but not standing tall and majestic like they usually do when they’re overlooking their earthen kingdom– we see them in forms of things we write with, what we write on, what we use to clean things, and what we use to shelter us from nature’s tempest by giving us a roof and foundation. Trees, especially in the past, were seen as objects to be taken at our leisure, a profit, and an economic gain to be capitalized on. But they are not only trees. To the Haida, trees have ethereal value, and when they are used as totem poles, their beauty is still preserved and used also to preserve other things.

As we learn throughout the course of this harrowing journey of the book, everything, like the trees, has a supernatural equivalent and everything is interconnected. But we also learn that the dichotomy between things can be defined, whether it be between night and day, earth and ocean, or the supernatural and the real worlds.

By taking an axe, unforgiving and harsh in nature, to the trunk of the hallowed golden spruce, a symbol of resurrection and even resilience (because the mortality rates of saplings were against this tree, same as any other), Grant Hadwin (who himself was a study in contrast– a logger who believed more so in the preservation of trees, the ecosystems that relied on the trees, and the ethereal beauty of the woods) cut down the barriers between both dichotomy and interconnectedness– by falling the tree, he gave way to the logging mindset, but he also showed the unity between trees by treating it the same as the ones fallen before it.

In the end, there was no good way to about approaching this issue. Although Grant Hadwin succeeded in uniting so many peoples, what he did was also drastic– cutting down a tree of high moral and spiritual value. Cutting it down killed it, but it saved it from living a life only preserved by being considered a pet.”

The main theme I focused on was the dichotomy and interconnectedness found throughout the book, and how the almost ironic preservation of the “special tree” was such a prominent issue when meanwhile, “regular” trees are being used like disposable resources. In the first paragraph I talked about using our backyard mindlessly, and how we always admire trees (“majestic”; “earthen kingdom”) by likening them to royalty, but how there are trees all around us that we use everyday (pencils, paper, paper towels, and houses). I then talked about how trees were a focal point of economic gain for the loggers, but something to be revered by the Haida. The trees, I stated, were used responsibly, and when they were used to make totem poles, their beauty was still preserved by combining it with the beauty of capturing something else.

The big theme was that Grant Hadwin, a concentrated force of what was both in tune with nature and an instrument of mankind, was a conflict in himself. [See footnote] His action, cutting down the spruce destroyed the barriers of both division and unity. By cutting down the tree, like of all the trees before it, he achieved two things: 1. Subjecting the golden spruce (“the hallowed golden spruce, a symbol of resurrection and even resilience”) to its untimely death, using an axe (“an axe, unforgiving and harsh in nature”), he committed an act that further separated the natural world from the man-made; 2. By falling the tree, like the many before it, he broke the division between the Golden Spruce and all its predecessors, creating unity and a level of equality, if you will, between the trees. By doing what he did, he brought together bands of people of different creeds, beliefs, and goals. Too bad it took such drastic actions to do it.

18493645_454765424868060_1119691466_o(SORRY FOR THE QUALITY OR LACK THEREOF)

Looking at the picture, there are two main elements that I wanted to highlight. The picture as a whole was a line drawing, meaning I kept my pencil on the paper for the whole drawing (Which was no easy feat, considering I had to keep the red pen on the same line as well), which represented the inter-connectivity between all objects and life forces. The difference in colour, however, symbolized a contrasting theme: the divisions between forces (life and death, nature and man, land and sea, etc.), with nature being represented by pencil and man/materialism represented by red pen.

In the tree, I connected several words in the middle of the branches, which were just a small detail. The words that were put in are as follows: hope, Haida, resilience, spirituality, unity, balance, interconnectedness. The words don’t necessarily relate to what I wrote entirely, but I picked them up while reading the book.

The axe, as can be seen, is sticking out of the trunk of the tree, with red dripping out of the “wound”. I put the blood on the trunk and on the surrounding stumps to symbolize the marks left behind by the logging industry. You can also see that the foremost stump has a log right in front of it, drawn in red. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted to have it coloured that way, but I realized that categorizing it as a material made the image more powerful. After all, the logging companies basically stamped their names on the trees, so I wanted to show that through making that log red. This shows that, although it’s an object of nature, as soon as it’s cut down, it becomes something to be used for consumer use.

*As a side note, I wanted to try and draw Grant Hadwin chopping down the tree, and draw him in both grey and red to denote that he is both a force of nature and man, with the interests of both parties at heart. (Somewhere along the line I realized I’m terrible at drawing people so for the sake of aesthetics I left him out.)

Confederation DoL

Unity, in different shapes and forms, whether it be promoting for, waging a war on, or being brought to light, transcends the tests of time and is something ubiquitous throughout Confederation. I mean, you’ve got John A. Macdonald, the father of Confederation, pushing for provincial rights, and the Maritime provinces creating unions to be heard. My character, Harriet Tubman, wanted freedom, equality, and equity for her people. Confederation, patriotic in connotation, had many different groups of people pushing for different things: central governments, federal-based decision making, a voice, — but overall, unity was one of the key themes that I picked up from our study of Confederation. After all, what says unity more than individual provinces coming together to form a country? So a question I have is, how was unity achieved and ignored in Confederation? What is unity in diversity? And how did unity in diversity tie into Confederation and the creation of a nation?

“While everyone conceded in the 1860’s that the object of the Fathers of Confederation was to produce the bases of one political entity, no one anticipated that this task would be performed by imposing uniformity on the diverse peoples and regions of British North America.” (source)

We all know, having read numerous papers highlighting both the good and bad of Confederation, about the exclusion that occurred. The First Nations, and even the Maritimes were ignored, and truthfully speaking, it seems regressive to create a country for the people without even including the people. We know about the attempts to assimilate Aboriginal people and the erasure of their culture, through residential schools, immersion, and abuse. When seeing these on paper, it becomes difficult to think that Canada is something built on the basis of unity.

However, we also need to realize that things were very different back then. This may sound really privileged and condescending, but from an outsider’s POV, I think that the divides that were put up increased the chances of stronger, permanent unity between different groups, because the drive to overcome them was so much stronger.

In conclusion, this document of learning was a way of creating a summary of the concepts we learned about during Confederation, using history and facts while also forming our own viewpoints on this interesting and pivotal act in Canada’s history. Do I believe that Confederation was an all-inclusive concept? Superficially yes, but digging deeper we can see that that is not always the case. However, the struggles that minorities and other groups went through and the beginning steps of compensation for such actions are what I believe has made the country stronger, because its attempts at at inclusiveness remind us what Confederation was meant to achieve.

The Moses of Her People: 1863

Why does the term “Free Blacks” exist?

I mean, are we so invisible that we’re either “free” or slaves?

I’ve been working for the Union. Freeing slaves. Saving lives. One can hardly call me invisible. I am living right now to serve God, but that is of my own choice. Although under the servitude of God, I am not a slave. The premonitions and visions I received must be for a reason.

After all, one does not choose to partake in a gunshot raid without reason, just as one does not choose to make 19 trips on the underground railroad within 10 years. It was not easy to hold a gun to peoples’ heads when they refused to move forward, as I could feel that they were scared. Terrified, even. “Move or die!” I would shout. And although maybe I might have been harsh, these times call for harsh. Besides, out of all of the 300 slaves I saved, including my sister and nieces, I never lost a single one. The easy way might have been for them to give up, but I moved them, and with them, I moved myself.

I am so grateful for British North America [Canada]’s opposition toward slavery. The underground railroad would have no purpose should it not have a destination. As a Union spy, I am able to see and hear the things that go on. I can hear it in the booms in the distance. I can see it in the eyes of the dying in the hospital, sick of dysentery, some of whom I couldn’t cure in time. This is still my goal. Fight for the Union, raid plantations, and lead as many people as I can to freedom.

No matter.

I am a servant of God. And I am doing good.

An Exploration of Resurgence: The Destruction of a People and its Rise to the Surface

In the short time period we’ve been in this class, we have already begun to learn about the indecencies and errors of our past as humans, especially in Canada. We know what cultural genocide is, and we know its branches. We are beginning to understand the reasoning behind the courses of action, and its effects on different cultures. Over the course of this past week, we’ve done a reading about residential schools, the sixties scoop, and cultural genocide in Canada, and how it affected the masses of Aboriginals, changing the course of their existence. We have learned about reconciliation, what it is, and how people are striving to achieve the positive change and rehabilitation between two nations that reconciliation hopes to bring. We have learned about the past, and about the present, but we haven’t learned what happens between those stages, which begs the questions: Why is cultural eradication so negatively effective? How do some cultures bounce back from such extreme actions? By all means, Canada has a peaceful connotation, one of freedom, one of religious and cultural freedom.

This course has led us to explore the darker sides of human history, devoid of happy unions, or new exploration of a completely new land. For this topic in particular, there are several important things to touch on, several of which I hope to explore in this post. Some of these include themes of revenge, quiet submission, and rebuttal. For the purposes of this post, here are some of the goals I had while writing:

  • Notice trends, patterns, and outliers in cultural genocide in other regions, not just Canada
  • Observe why some cultures can bounce back and why others can’t
  • Explore different forms of cultural eradication and the different effects they have

Antoine Lavoisier, Chemist Under Pressure

Jan 1, 1789

I’ve done it! My first chemistry book has been successfully published, and well timed too. Change has been sweeping over the land… It seems to spell trouble for us scientists, and I’m rather worried. Sciences these days have been taking a backseat to all religion and politics. I realize those are two upcoming issues, but science is just as important. Especially since, although I am a tax collector, I choose to distance myself from political matters, meaning my sciences are made even more obsolete. I do hope that the success of my first chemistry book publication lasts long enough for me to get some recognition. My dear wife, Marie-Anne Paulze, has been helping out as well, helping me revise my notes, but I worry that both of us will be in trouble soon, as both of us are scientists, and of noble class. Hopefully, all this political noise will die down, and not turn into anything major. God help us if this sparks political conflict, because we, and the rest of our fellow nobles, are in trouble if this comes true.

As a scientist, I merely want to continue my studies. I have been revolutionary in this field so far, and I wish for my name to continue being known for that. The only thing that I have to worry about now is the current political upheaval… but that’s not where my priorities lie. Let us now revel in the fact that I have finished publishing Traité élémentaire de chimie, and today, science has had one success.

What can I say? There’s nothing I can do to change the fact that things are going to be happening, exactly what, I cannot predict. I will continue my studies, and hope for the best that I will remain important for years to come.

Jan 1, 1791 

The development of the metric system is well under way, working alongside colleagues such as Pierre-Simon Laplace and Adrien-Marie Legendre. However, the present situation is getting out of hand. The French Revolution has broken out, and times are becoming increasingly dangerous for us, especially us of aristocratic class, as the Revolutionists believe that we are the problem. I have tried, as hard as I could, to stay out of these matters, but now I seem to be roped in regardless.

Aug 8, 1793

A revolutionary judge stated that Revolutionary France has no need for scientists, and that is becoming more and more true as we speak. Today, revolutionaries shut down the French Academy of Sciences, and that is where I stamp my foot in disapproval. Science has done nothing, nothing at all (!), to harm France! It has, in fact, helped it greatly, and has furthered progress! I alone have made advancements and discoveries that have made an impact on the scientific world.

These revolutionaries don’t know what they’re doing. They are getting in the way of our then-peaceful lives, and have completely ruined all order and peace. There are different social classes for a reason. I find myself more and more involved in political matters these days, no matter how hard I tried to stay away. Is there anything now that is not swamped by politics? Can you walk the streets without hearing whispers of conflict and change?

Maybe this is happening for a reason, but for now, I am focusing on myself, science, and the greater good, if there is even such a thing anymore.

Final Address: Keeping Your Head on Your Shoulders

So this is how it ends.

I, Antoine Lavoisier, nobleman, chemist, and tax collector, will not close my eyes. All my life had crumbled around me during the Reign of Terror, and now, even with all my power taken from me, I will not cower under control of the executioner, for I will die with pride.

But all this damage, all the terror, and for what? The Terror achieve nothing, in fact, it was detrimental; a step backwards. All the killing, the public executions… including mine, soon to come. Is this a lack of humanity, or is this what humanity has been degraded to? What did the revolutionaries think they would achieve by shutting down the science academy? I have been branded a traitor for my work, but no, those simpletons do not understand that science is not defiance against progress, it IS progress. Politics, religion… these have run rampant throughout the Revolution, but science has been underestimated. What can I say? I tried to keep out of politics, but I was dragged in. Looking back, maybe I should have done more. Should have fought back. Should have tried to flee, even.

Yes, I adulterated the nation’s tobacco with water, and supplied France’s enemies with money from the national treasury. But my importance to the nation, to science, is irreplaceable. My wife, alone after my death, will continue my work, but it will not be the same.

I realize now, in my final hours, it is what we humans have created that has destroyed us. I will not close my eyes. I will not quake in fear of my already decided fate. I will stare into the faces of the crowd, of those who deemed me a traitor, think that my work as tax gatherer was treason. In the name of science, of the fallen, and for the greater good (whatever that is, anymore), I, Antoine Lavoisier, die an unjust death, but at least I won’t be here to see the ruin that follows.

Socials Midterm (AKA Mimi Crying and Dying, But What Else is New?)

(A real picture of me here after technical difficulties destroyed the 2000 words that made me cry and die.)

Ah yes, the icing on top of the cake. For my Socials Midterm, I decided to focus on the big idea, “The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change”. Of course, who’s to say that the Socials Midterm is a bad thing? It requires higher-level thinking, experience, and of course, lots of unanswerable questions (like every other open-ended question in Social Studies).

“The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change”. At first, I felt like this was a digestible enough topic, and that with enough care and time, I would be able to create my own understanding of this. After writing, re-writing, and finally revising the notes I scribbled that day, I realized how difficult this topic was. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a solid enough understanding of the topic, no—it was that there were so many different topics and themes explored throughout the first half of Social Studies that I felt overwhelmed by all the possibilities I had, such as The Trial of the King, the Niqab Issue, Christopher Columbus, Canadian Government, etc. The thing about “the physical environment” was that it related to many (most) of the topics we discussed, and could be incorporated into intangible things as well, such as law and justice, if you connected it to the unlawful act, the final physical result of a trial, etc. Another thing I noticed was that, in most cases, political, social, and economic change could be related. Political change resulted in different relationships and communications, affecting the social aspects of things. Political change also affected economy, in terms of taxation laws and trade. In the same way, social and economical changes were related, especially where trade and other foreign relations were concerned. The physical environment could change economics (e.g. areas of consumption, types of resources bought/sold, currency where materials were involved), social aspects (e.g. foreign communications, or even something as simple as global events sparking interest on social media) and politics (e.g. the death/impeaching of a political power resulting in new laws, reign and power), all of which could be related (and for better or for worse).

Like the Trial of the King, for instance: I considered the execution of King Charles and Cromwell’s rise to power physical events, both of which affected the economy, society, and of course, politics. Assuming a role on the panel of judges, I had an unusual viewpoint over the trial. I could see where both the prosecution and defense were coming from, regardless of the real-life outcome. At the end, when Charles’s fate was decided, I found myself wondering, what really would have happened if Charles had stayed in power? When he died, would his policies continue, or would his successor choose to eliminate some of Charles’s ideologies? Would the world be different had King Charles lived, or would the world manage to get to where it is now? Literally no one will ever know.

The Seeds of Equality in a Civil War

What starts a civil war? It could be anything from treason, economic decline, or a murder. What does a civil war achieve? Is it ethical? What does it accomplish? Who decides which side is morally just? Is there more regress than progress, vice versa, or is it subjective?

Most people focus on the fighting and economics of the war, most of which were controlled by men. But what I wondered was how women acted during this war. I knew for a fact that women had minimal rights and roles, not just in England, but in most of the world (during this time), but I wanted to know what (if any) actions they took in order to step towards their freedom, and how their lives changed, for better or for worse.

Now, we come to the discussion of women’s roles and rights and their development, albeit minimal, before, during and after the war.

Prior to the English Civil War, in terms of profession and work, women were prohibited from taking on professional jobs, although they were usually employed by their fathers or husbands to work in their guild. Pay was minimal, for no matter what field a woman was in, her work was not as valued as a male with the same skill set. Women’s roles were mostly domestic, such as washing, weaving, tailors, shoemakers, and embroiderers. Some women were given the roles of brewers and bakers.Being a domestic servant was not an uncommon job. Others were often given the job of midwife. However, contrary to popular belief, most men would not be able to keep their farms and businesses running without the help of their wives. However, this does not change the fact that women had no right to pursue a professional career, and were paid minimally for the jobs that they had.

Women were expected to follow the rules without question, set by the Father, considered the ruler of the family, in this highly patriarchal society. Outside of the house, a woman’s opinions and thoughts were represented by her husband. A single woman was feared, solely for the fact that she was living without a man. This in itself was one of the most affecting reasons for the witch hunts, for it was considered suspicious for a woman to be without a man, the “authority” of the house, which almost amuses me now to think. (“A highly capable, equal human being living without a male of whom she can match the skills of, if not exceed? Must be a witch. Let’s unjustly murder her without any solid evidence!”)

During the civil war, the “radical” idea of spiritual equality for both genders was presented by numerous protestors. In the highly religious and hierarchical 17th century England, in which religion still played a huge role, it was nearly impossible for them to separate the spiritual from the secular (which was still pretty religious, if you ask me).

In the later stages of the civil war, women’s actions served the purpose as an advocate for eliminating social (and gender) distinctions. A petition was created to release Leveller leader John Lilburne. In another event, women were sent in to plead their case, but ended up attacking political figure Cromwell, ripping off his cloak.

In the end, regardless of their ethical (and not-so-ethical) actions, the Leveller acts made by the women ventured the idea of an equal role for women in a male-dominated society. In 1647, Mary Overton was arrested, breaking laws that stated that women were given significant roles usually played by men. Leader John Lilburne wrote, “Neither Adam nor Eve held dominion over one another and that their descendants should not either.” Although at the end of the civil war, women were still fighting for equality as they are today, it was a step in the right direction.

In the history of Europe, never before had such a bold feminist movement been presented. Their actions, no matter how small they seemed, were the biggest that had been seen in this time.

The English Civil War was a time of government/economic dominated struggle, but quietly, underneath the prominent clashes, women were struggling to be heard.



An Economic Power on the Rise: South Asian Economy in the 15th-17th Century

When I think of South Asia, the beautiful region containing countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and, predominantly, India, the first things come to mind include the Taj Mahal, the fragrant food, and advanced software and technologies (including IBM, McAfee, and Symantec). South Asia and its cultures and many advancements are known around the world. However, these only scratch the surface of some of the many amazing components that make South Asia what it is. I expected rudimentary systems, basic trades, and minimal money roles in South Asia’s economic history. Due to the initial lack of information, because of the way it was documented, I was discouraged: My topic seemed boring, when meanwhile, the RENAISSANCE was happening in the neighbouring continent. However, what I did find pleasantly surprised me, in that there’s more than meets the eye in South Asia’s economy.

South Asian economy today, specifically India’s, is expected to overtake the UK in 2018, and, at the rate it’s going, become the world’s 3rd strongest economy by 2024. This economic power, however, had once been primarily based upon a socially established network of barter exchange for goods and services in the 15th-17th century. South Asia’s trade economy had two dominant components, the first revolving around village communities that had a well-built barter exchange. In this, money had a very unimportant role. In the more commercialized economy, villages would sell grains to nearby towns, through their rural merchants (Mahajans) and traders. They were also placed near popular trade routes, where markets sold specific goods and resources, targeted to their audience. They hosted seasonal fairs which attracted foreign crowds from near and far. Some villages were built specifically to supply travelers with food.

South Asia’s countries used a wide variety of currencies, but India, in particular, used coins made of gold, copper, and sometimes, lead. During his rule from 1540-1545, King Sher Shah Suri introduced a silver coin, predominantly known as a rupee, derived from the Sanskrit word rupya, meaning, “coin wrought from silver”. The coin was in use until the end of the Mughal Era, which ended in 1857, which was when large amounts of silver were discovered in the United States and some European colonies. This increase of silver was indeed detrimental to the rupee, as silver’s value relative to gold decreased, solely because of the large quantities of silver that had been found. This event was known as the “Fall of the Rupee”.

Today, India (representing South Asia, at least for now) is an up and coming economy that’s growing stronger as time passes, after many years of building up an advanced trading and selling platform, and “rebuilding” after the rupee lost value. Yes, ladies and gentleman, South Asia truly is an economic power that has faced struggle, and will continue getting stronger.


More about South Asia:

Religion and Government:




Other links:

World Economic League Table 2015

Nurture vs. Nature: The Seemingly Impossible Question

What would you say has helped shape who you are more up until now: genetics, personality, and innate composition, or your friends, teachers, and environment? Depending on how you perceive that question, it could be a toss-up between both: when going in-depth on this topic, most people come to think that their environment affects their behaviour and choices, but arguably, innate structures play a big role in your behaviour as well. This, ladies and gentleman, quite simply sums up the long-standing argument of “Nurture vs. Nature”, which basically tries to evaluate the roles of genetics and environment in how people act and how they make their choices. I’ve been pursuing this topic for a while now, and no matter what facts I dig up, experiments I pore over, or stories I read, it never fails to fascinate me. Learning about this has helped me become more aware of the people I surround myself with, and how my choices are influenced. However, the question is, do genetics or environment play a bigger part in the decisions people make?