Long past time Champlain’s contribution is acknowledged
To the Expositor:
At last…an article acknowledging Samuel Champlain’s contribution to the exploration and knowledge of Canada (‘400 years ago, Champlain’s first European contact with First Nations in Georgian Bay met sound society,’ August 12, Page 1). I am truly thankful that Alicia McCutcheon and Shelley Pearen have published this ground-breaking historic fact, long suppressed.
Champlain was the only and the first explorer forging strong links between European people (it didn’t matter what nationality they were, Champlain welcomed them all) and the native peoples living in North America at the time. He was, up to then the only colonizer to succeed in establishing a colony, both in Nova Scotia and Quebec because he respected native people, learned from them and was willing to work with them. He never underestimated them as so many have done since, including today.
Native people already had a strong agricultural economy which he was quick to recognize. He envisioned working together to produce a new society based on the best of both. It was this cooperative spirit that impressed early native people to the point that Champlain’s oral history among them, lasted for many years after his death. It was too bad that successive leaders did not seize on his early success with them but they were dismissive of French and Native people in general.
I refer anyone interested in this subject to a wonderful book by David Hackett Fischer, ‘Champlain’s Dream.’ It extensively researches his life and first opened my eyes to how influential and far seeing this great man was for those times. He truly deserves to be known as the father of Canada.
Also, North American foods revolutionized the European diet with tomatoes, potatoes, squashes and so many other foodstuffs that Europe that it had a permanent effect on their diet. Their contributions meant more storable foods, especially potatoes, meaning people had a better survival rate over the winter. People there had had to rely on gruel to subsist over the winter whose storage capabilities were not great. That fact alone means we owe native peoples a huge debt.
Please continue on with these great educational subjects. It is long past due.