Vicky Walker has loved The Tragically Hip since she first heard the band play at London’s Western University during Frosh Week 25 years ago.
But it wasn’t until she learned singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with the same incurable brain cancer that killed her mother when Walker was 14 years old that she resolved to bring her love for the Hip’s music into her classroom.
“That truly captured my attention and heart,” says Walker, a Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute teacher in Thunder Bay. “Reading about the band’s final concert also made me reflect upon what it meant to our nation culturally and as a reflection upon our national identity.”
Using the band’s iconic Canadiana-infused lyrics and songs to teach her Grade 10 Canadian History classes this semester, Walker says the material makes a rich base upon which to teach the subject. “Understanding Canadian identity and being able to internalize what it means to live in Canada and be Canadian is fundamental to what we history teachers attempt to instil in our students,” she explains. “If we can make those connections, we help create adults that are passionate about our nation and the events of history.