In the past week, I somehow ended up watching A Bridge Too Far: a 1977 epic war film about Operation Market Garden. The movie depicts the Allies’ effort to drive the Nazis out of the Netherlands during World War II.
It features a star-studded cast, including such actors as Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Robert Redford, Dirk Bogarde, James Caan and many others. Subsequently, I watched one of several documentaries on the matter, followed by looking into the history of the broader area as a whole. The operation was the largest airborne operation in the war up to that point but fell one bridge short of achieving their objective.
The bridge in question is less than 30 km from where I grew up as the crow flies and the operation heavily impacted the rest of the war for those in the immediate area and rest of the Netherlands. My grandparents lived through the war and I remember some people would have large tank or artillery shells growing up. The war is part of my family’s history, and if I want to know more about it, I don’t have to look far. There’s an abundance of materials available online, not to mention museums, written documents and people who can recount things if I was really invested.
The war is just one and the most recent example of this. My hometown, which is not unlike 100 Mile House, is documented as early as 963 AD. Even going back further than that, you can find plenty of information on the region’s inhabitants etc., from YouTube videos to documentaries, museums, to history-based graphic novels.
I tend to be a bit more interested in history than the average person probably is and hence, I’ll occasionally venture into the wealth of information. However, I’m not a real history buff and I’m sure that there are groups of people to whom their family’s or broader history is incredibly important.
Having lived in the Cariboo on and off for about 10 years I’ve gotten to interview First Nations people on a few occasions, such as during the St. Joseph’s Residential School Commemoration Project.
Despite having gotten only a glimpse at best, it has pressed upon me a brief glance of what was lost in terms of history and culture (atrocities and consequences from the residential school system aside).
As someone who both has an abundance of history available and values it, while I’m not in a position to understand what it means to have lost historical knowledge, it’s not hard to see the significance of it.
There are no multimillion dollar starstudded movies, nor an abundance of documentaries or other resources on local First Nations. Through efforts like those by Tsilhqot’in filmmaker Trevor Mack, there’s starting to be more, however, until there’s saturation (if that ever happens), the importance of National Indigenous Peoples Day cannot be overstated.