The Politics of ParticipationNews
As the 2017 Sesquicentennial approaches, Helen Davies’ book The Politics of Participation is an important and impressive guide to understanding the 1967 Centennial’s success. It reminds us why a modest country such as Canada might have missed the event altogether, but then woke up and decided to reinvent itself as a modern and forward-thinking nation. (Download here)
What does Helen Davies' examination of the history of Canada’s Centennial year have to teach us? Three lessons, chiefly:
First, it wasn’t government that led the way to 1967. It was citizens.
Second, a large measure of the Centennial’s success was due to the fact that organizers in Ottawa resisted the temptation to prescribe an overarching theme or a single vision of Canada’s past, its future, or its identity. Instead, the verb ‘learn’ often appeared in official promotions where any other country would determinedly print the verb ‘celebrate’.
Third, the Centennial drew together culture and politics and stimulated our sense of public imagination. The Centennial became an occasion to think strategically and to ask, as a country at 100, Where are we? Where are we going? and How should we get there?