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The Good Ol’ Days – Socials Final Address

It’s been a long and intense year, both in social studies and in many other aspects. We’ve covered a lot. Thinking back, it’s hard  to realize that it was over six months ago that I was stressing out over my first eminent person study and interviewing my idol. Now, we’ve finished off with an anything but linear political exploration. Additionally, we looked back on Canada; What can we learn from our country’s past and what made it what it was?

For my socials final address, I chose to create and present a personality who not only existed in our period of study, but also experienced many of the challenges and saw many of the issues of that time. The following is the historical life presentation I created that my personality, and guest speaker, presented to our class on our final day of socials.  It is the historical life of John O’Callaghan, who lives in Winnepeg, and is visiting our class in the late 1800s after his move from the East Coast. He focuses on his experiences and self-realization as a main theme of topic.

“Oh hello everyone! It’s an honour to be here today. You know, I’ve always wanted to speak to a group like you. It’s amazing to see such a diverse classroom, with so many different identities and backgrounds in one group of young individuals. I hope you realize how special that is. Now you’re probably wondering where I’m from, or why I have an Irish accent if I live in Canada. So let me tell you a bit about myself.

I grew up in Ireland just north of Dublin in the late 1830s. I was born in 1834, a year after Britain officially abolished the trade of slaves. Our family had a potato farm, and we were proud to be Irish. I walked home from school every day with the neighbour’s son, he was about 5 years older than me. He used to tell me about how when he was younger he didn’t have to do any work because they had slaves for that. He was always complaining about the next or newest chore he was heading home to. His father had gotten rid of their slaves when the new law was brought in, because he knew no slaves would be allowed very soon. We came from very different households. My father didn’t believe in slaves. He believed in us doing our own work that we deserved to do. We had chosen to own a farm, it was our duty to maintain it, you couldn’t pay anyone else to do it for you.

Eleven years after I was born, the Great Famine hit Ireland. People got sick and starved everywhere. We were fine for the first few years, but in 1850, my father got sick. There wasn’t enough supplies to get him healthy and there was no where we could take him. He passed away only a few months after the illness hit him. Soon after this, my mother, myself, and my two older brothers moved to Canada. It was the colony with new hope, for the crown, for the Irish, and for our family.

The first little while, we lived in Halifax,  Nova Scotia. We were welcome there, it seemed as though we arrived with our foot already two steps along the path to success in our new life. Then confederation came around. It was a big deal. By that time I was a little older and could actually think for myself. And I didn’t think much of those politicians. You know everyone says you have to agree with someone, but that’s not true. What’s really important is that you agree with yourself. I never much agreed with ol’ Johnny boy my neighbour in Ireland. Nor what his father’s views were. I don’t like to think too much about what happened to my father, because I know he wouldn’t want me spending time on him when there are so many more valuable things to be thought about. He got sick that one time because of a famine, but the slaves all around the world are still getting sick so often because of the conditions in which they live.

I thought it would be different in Canada. When they separated from the U.K. I must admit, a slight excitement passed through me. There were so many possibilities for Canada; you could see the potential, but it wasn’t what it should have been, at least not yet it hasn’t been.

I married and started my own family a few years after confederation. In 1872 we were offered land in the prairies and moved out to start a farm, just like the old days. There was an Irish community there that we became a part of, we had all been sent out there to help ‘colonize’ the west. It was exciting, but I don’t think the government realized they were getting a young man who was willing to crash his savings for transportation to the capital to protest social issues. Good ol’ John A. That man was very focused on his economy, didn’t like to think too much of others. I lived out in Winnepeg, so I got to see what the government was doing to Aboriginals. They were native to the land but had been kicked out by foreigners. It seemed weird to me. The government treated them no differently to how slaves were treated. Although actually, they treated the worse. They were given no control over their own lives.
After all these years, I look back on things, and I’ve realized a lot: about myself, about Canada, and about people. It should never be up to others to choose where you go or what you do. You can do whatever you wish if you only take the first step. I hope in the future that all of you can realize that too, and live a happy life being who you want to be. I hope politicians will be a bit better for you to follow by. I hope they care about things that really matter, like fairness for everyone, and aren’t so focused on the economy. My advice to all of you is, don’t think of taking action or standing up for yourself as a mountain to climb, think of it as a staircase, you only needing to take the first step.”

Well that’s that. My final socials post of the 2014-15 school year. I enjoyed looking at things from a new perspective this year, and seeing new parts of Canada’s history I hadn’t seen before. I look forward to what next year has in store, but for now, so long from the past, and have a good summer and future!