Spring 2024 - HIST 485 D100

Studies in History I (4)

Selling War to Canadians

Class Number: 4737

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



Special topics.


Canada at War: Selling War to Canadians

The Canadian state has engaged in military action since its formation in 1867. It has deployed its armed forces against First Nations, Métis, protestors, and workers, and supported British, American, and its own imperial interests around the world.

The decisions to use military force have never been made by the people of Canada in a democratic fashion. Instead, governments, often listening to the heads of corporations, decided to wage war. "Fighting for democracy," "women's rights," "human rights," "freedom," "peace" and other appeals have disguised the real reasons for war, while alternative voices have often been supressed.

This course will look at Canada's military engagements at home and abroad from confederation to the present. More critically, it will examine the media to see how war has been rationalized, justified, and "sold" to Canadians.

The course will start with a critical overview of Canada's military operations from the Riel Resistance to Afghanistan. This will be done through short lectures, readings, and seminar discussion. The latter part of the course will be student presentations on particular military actions, the justifications offered by governments, corporations, and the media, and challenges to the government. The aim of our course is to help us look through propaganda to consider why Canada has gone to war and so encourage informed democratic participation in future decisions.


  • Weekly journal entries/participation 40%
  • Preliminary Research Presentation 20%
  • Final Research Presentation (we can discuss and negotiate this breakdown in class.) 40%



In addition to articles in Canvas, we will read most of the material in these books, which should be available online as well as in paper:

  • Canada's Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace,L. Granatstein
  • Canada in the World: Settler Capitalism and the Colonial Imagination, Tyler Shipley
  • Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War, Jean Bricmont


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html