We Need More Canadian Content in School Yearbooks

Diane Lynn TibertThis Roots to the Past column appeared in newspapers July 2012.

A few days before the final full day of school, my children in junior high arrived home with their yearbooks. Just like in other years, they sat at the kitchen table, surfing through the pages, pointing out their friends and the girl who had done this in the cafeteria and the boy who had done that in math class. They scanned the faces of the teachers and giggled about an event that happened during the school year. The graduating class got to add a few words by their pictures, so my kids were busy reading them out loud and making silly comments.

This was all in good fun as I listened-in while working around the kitchen and baking cookies. I told them that in years to come, they’ll pull out those books, just like I have pulled out my school yearbooks, and make comments different from what they were saying now. It’ll be more like “What a hair do!”, “OMG, did we really wear that stuff?” and “Look at how young we were”.

My daughter piped up and said a few pages of the book included breaking news stories that occurred during the past year and the current general prices of goods. And then she cried, “It’s all American!”Diane Lynn Tibert

For whatever reason, the school once again had my children’s yearbooks created and printed in the United States. I can understand if production costs were cheaper (though I wonder if they were), but what really makes me crazy is that when my kids look at these books twenty years from now, all they’ll see is what was important to the United States, not Canada. They’ll see what the price of gas was a gallon, not per litre.

We all know prices south of the border are considerably cheaper; that’s why people cross-border shop. The US prices do not reflect a true picture of our country, let alone the reality in our province.

When my grandchildren read their parent’s yearbooks, they’ll see what American athletes were up to, and what breaking news story the president was involved in. The most popular American movies and artists will be highlighted while ours aren’t even mentioned.

Canada and a small part of Canadian history, will be once again, left out in the cold. The students receiving these American books containing their pictures and that of their classmates are deprived of knowing at a glance what was important to life in their community, within their country, during their school years.

This is the legacy my children’s school has left to the future kids and grandkids of their students.

Yearbooks weren’t always this way. Mine might not be flashy with brilliant colours, but it did have all Canadian content. Additional material was produced by the students themselves. They submitted artwork, poetry and stories. When I look back at my books, I can see the contributions made by my fellow classmates and see what was most important to us.

I’m not saying world events shouldn’t be included in a yearbook, but I do believe the main focus should be on the country in which the school is located. It should possess a sense of pride for the community and the country.

NOTE: The Canadian company Friesens is one of the largest suppliers of yearbooks in Canada: http://www.friesens.com/

Diane Lynn Tibert

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