The Beatles came to America. John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Woman began their own social movement, and in Canada, we adopted a new flag with a red maple leaf on it.
The 1960s changed modern life as we know it, and next week, the decade will be the subject of the 24th annual Two Days of Canada conference at Brock.
“The Sixties, Canadian-Style” will bring together Canadian and international scholars to discuss Canada’s role in the ferment and conflict of the 1960s, and the cultural and historical changes that followed in its wake.
There’s much to discuss about the 60s, including when the era started and ended, said Nick Baxter-Moore, professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film and one of the conference organizers.
While every decade makes its mark, the 60s saw an unusual amount of change taking shape, Baxter-Moore said. In Canada, that includes Trudeaumania and public health insurance. Modern feminism and environmentalism also have their roots in the 1960s, he said.
Even music saw a drastic change.
“The Beatles and Bob Dylan changed the way we think about music,” he said. “Before that, you’d get a professional songwriter to write a song, then find a pretty face to sing it. The 60s saw the birth of the modern singer/songwriter.”
The 60s are often romanticized, said Marian Bredin, conference co-organizer and director of the Centre for Canadian Studies. Some say it was not as open and free as it is portrayed in its common mythology. Others believe it was even more so.
“It’s due for critical re-examination,” she said.
The conference will feature two plenary sessions:
• “Power to the People!”, Thursday, Nov. 4, 9:30 to 11 a.m., Pond Inlet
- Burnley “Rocky” Jones, an attorney and leading figure in the Canadian civil and human rights movements;
- Meg Luxton, an activist and professor in the School of Women’s Studies, York University;
- Dimitri Roussopoulos, founder of the Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1959 and organizer of the first student demonstrations against nuclear weapons in Canada.
• “The Cultural is Political”, Friday, Nov. 5, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Pond Inlet
- Jim Garrard, actor, playwright, director and cultural activist;
- Dorothy Todd Hénaut, documentary filmmaker, director and producer;
- Marion (Marien) Lewis, conceptual and performance artist, who created Canada’s first artist-run centre, A Space, in Toronto in the 60s.
Conference presentations examine a wide range of topics, including nation-building and national identity, grassroots and protest movements, the counterculture and cultural politics, the Vietnam war, and art and music.
The symposium will also feature a “60s Coffee House Revisited” on Thursday, Nov. 4 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in Pond Inlet. Local musicians will perform songs by Canadian artists such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen, Ian and Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.
The conference is open to everyone and there is no cost to attend any of the concurrent and plenary sessions.