Canadian Red Cross History in 120 Objects

The Canadian Red Cross has launched a digital commemoration of its 120 years of history.  I helped out on this project for a few weeks, and I am happy to say that it looks great.

  • The Canadian Red Cross, 120 Years of the Canadian Red Cross, Website, launched June 2016: http://www.redcross.ca/history/home#/?&date=2010.

The digital design is attractive, easily manipulated and read.  The primary aim is to engage visitors, and the virtual exhibit works well, in my naturally biased opinion, as a public history site.  It uses images of items to draw visitors in, and places these items on a timeline going back to 1885, when the Red Cross symbol was first employed in Canada.

And yes, that was during the suppression of the 1885 Rebellion in what became Saskatchewan.  Learn a little about that from the site here and here.  Red Cross history is pretty fascinating.  There were several stories that grabbed my attention back in the Spring of this year, as well as engrossing historical themes.  Most of all, though, I think I was just consistently impressed by the work of the Red Cross as an institution, and the efforts of its personnel and volunteers.  The new website certainly offers plenty of evidence that the Red Cross has an important place in Canadian history, as it has internationally since the movement began in the 1860s.

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Above is a screenshot of a portion of an info-graphic about the Canadian Red Cross, found here: http://www.redcross.ca/about-us/about-the-canadian-red-cross/what-we-do-infographic.

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And the 2016 CHA Prize Winners Are…

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 CHA-SHC awards.  If you were not able to attend to gala at which the prizes were announced during Congress 2016 at the University of Calgary, they you can read the list of winners the CHA now has on its website.

Here is one thing I noticed about that list.  Winners who published in academic journals and with academic presses have their publication fully referenced in the list.  The journal, the volume, the page numbers – all there.  The press, the city and year – that too.  I reviewed Mark Kuhlberg’s latest book for Ontario History this year, so his book jumped out at me – it won the Political History Group’s prize for best book.  Here is how it is listed.

Mark Kuhlberg, IN THE POWER OF THE GOVERNMENT: THE RISE AND FALL OF NEWSPRINT IN ONTARIO, 1894-1932. Toronto: UTP, 2015.

Makes perfect sense: if you want to go and find these things you use this information to go get the article or book.  That’s one of the reasons referencing is important. It provides accessibility and transparency, goals I think most academics support, and ones public institutions are certainly under pressure to live up to.

These standards are not met by the entries for the Public History Prize and The Canadian Oral History Association Prize.  They appear as follows.

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ActiveHistory doesn’t even get a “.ca”, and none of its editors are named.  You can find them here.  Being familiar with Active History, I know what it is and where to find it.  But that’s not the case for Radu’s, Healing in Chisasibi.  Was this a museum exhibit, a video production, a publication – what?  And available where?

The CHA is largely a scholarly association and that doesn’t need to change, but it should pay more attention to how it represents work in non-academic settings.  Plenty of academics are active in these areas, and the public interfaces with the non-academic history world more than it does the academic one.  If those aren’t reason enough to revise the format for these two entries, then the fact that they do not meet scholarly referencing standards should.

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Another Court Victory for Union Rights

I just saw the news of another legal victory for a public sector union against government legislation.  In 2011, the federal Conservative government intervened in a labour dispute between Canada Post (a federal agency) and its workers, who are members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).  The union was conducting rotating strikes to protest a lack of bargaining progress with the employer.  Canada Post responded by locking out workers.  Soon afterwards, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government passed the back to work legislation the Ontario Superior Court has now ruled was unlawful, according to this CTV News report.

On its website, CUPW says that Justice Firestone found that the back to work legislation, which imposed terms of work, was “unconstitutional and of no force and effect.”  Why?  Because the law contradicted fundamental freedoms of association and expression guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This victory for unions is one more confirmation of a legal trend in Canada that is constitutionalizing union rights.  What remains to be seen is whether governments will continue to use their legislative power to intervene in collective bargaining; or, perhaps more realistically, how governments will adapt their strategies for intervening.  Maintaining public services is always politically important, no matter the political outlook of a government.  How will government use the tool of legislative authority in the future?

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