Mission Statement

To contribute to conversations about Canada’s historical figures, bringing context and candour when they are unjustly maligned or their contributions diminished, in order to promote a deeper understanding and richer appreciation of our shared past.

What We Believe

“The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.”

L. P. Hartley, 1953

At the Canadian Institute for Historical Education, we believe the past should be approached in all its complexity. Although we now look back from the present, the past existed on its own terms, not ours.

The men and women who inhabit Canada’s history lived in times very different from our own but are no less interesting for that, and we can learn a great deal from their experience. But learning from the past requires our curiosity not our condescension; it asks for an honest effort to understand historically different assumptions and worldviews, and a willingness to evaluate the actions of historical figures with candour and humility. To dismiss and dishonour the beliefs and actions of historical figures because they were not completely in sync with our own values is a presentism that does them a disservice. It robs our history of its character, colour and humanity, and it steals from us the chance to truly understand – and learn from – our history.

History can be told from many perspectives. New evidence leads to new interpretations. New eras and perspectives ask new questions. From this ongoing dialog comes a deeper understanding and fuller appreciation for the complexity of our shared past. We encourage that conversation and aim to be a part of it.

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