D-Day museum gets facts wrong

A museum built in Normandy, France, to honour Canadian soldiers who landed on Juno Beach during D-Day is marred by displays that emphasize “politically correct” history and include glaring factual errors, according to historian Jack Granatstein, reported the National Post June 17. Granatstein, a distinguished research professor emeritus at York University and author of Who Killed Canadian History?, said displays and exhibits about the Normandy landings or Canada’s role in the Second World War are a distinct minority inside the Juno Beach Centre, and what little military history there is contains numerous errors. “It seems to me that getting things right is a basic part of a museum’s job,” said Granatstein, who toured the centre this month during ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of D-Day. “Especially when you’re representing your country abroad.” He said the most glaring mistake was a display that incorrectly stated that Canada lost 39,995 during the war. The actual figure is 42,042. “On something as basic as that, I don’t know how they couldn’t get it right.” Granatstein said other errors include the number of Canadian army personnel and the First World War rank of General Andrew McNaughton, the commander of the First Canadian Army in the Second World War. “Why can’t we get this stuff right; especially on Juno Beach?”

Right-wing does not mean closed-minded in multilingual Red Deer

“On the eve of the French language portion of the leaders debates for the federal election this week came a report out of Toronto indicating fluency in more than one language – especially from childhood – bodes well for mental acuity later in life,” began an editorial in the Red Deer Advocate June 16. “It was a rather small study conducted at York University but the abilities of the bilingual group to perform a standard psychological test called a Simon task far exceeded that of the unilingual group. The results grew more dramatic as the age of the participants increased….

“Also on Monday, and also touching on the election, the Calgary Herald listed the Red Deer riding as Alberta’s most right-wing,” continued the paper. “It is not much heralded as a cultural fact around the country, but Alberta happens to have one of the strongest bilingual populations outside of Quebec and Red Deer happens to have a well-respected French immersion school program.

“And Red Deer is no slouch for having a strong presence of other languages, either, all quite commonly heard in our places of business and public areas. If Red Deer is to be considered one of the strongest right-wing ridings in a province already noted for being hard to the right, at least we are quite able to do so without the term right-wing being a euphemism for closed-minded.”

Riding across Canada for literacy

York grad Shawn Broome wants to combine his two passions – teaching and cycling – to benefit some children in the Kingston, Ont., area. Starting in July, he’ll ride from Vancouver to Kingston to raise some money for the Limestone Learning Foundation, reported The Kingston Whig-Standard June 17. Broome is a Grade 7 teacher who graduated from York University with a BA in kinesiology in 2000.

Busking gave birth to Shuffle Demons

It seems hard to believe but it was 20 years ago this summer that a York University jazz student named Richard Underhill shuffled out to busk the corner of Toronto’s Yonge and Bloor streets with his big baritone sax in hand, wrote freelance writer Roger Levesque in the Edmonton Journal June 17 in a profile of the Juno-award winning Shuffle Demons jazz band.

On air

  • York University bestowed an honorary degree on Famiko Ishioka, director of the Holocaust Resource Centre in Tokyo, reported CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” in Toronto June 16. Ishioka once found a suitcase belonging to Holocaust victim Hana Brady that resulted in finding Hana’s surviving brother George in Toronto. She wrote a book about it called Hana’s Suitcase.
  • Omar Fairclough, a York third-year history student and a Canadian university-level debating champion, discussed the qualities of a great debate and critiqued the federal leaders English-language debate, on a CBC Radio item aired on local morning programs across Canada June 16. Fairclough said Paul Martin looked frantic and made too many hand gestures and Gilles Duceppe did the best job. He said style can outweigh message sometimes, but it really comes down to personalities. Similarly, third-year international studies student and fellow debating champion Emily Cohen said Duceppe did the best job and she really liked his confident style, in an interview aired by other CBC Radio morning programs across the country.