QUEEN ELIZABETH II, AGE 96, DIED ON SEPT. 8, AFTER 70 YEARS IN POWER
Nations of the Commonwealth collectively mourned Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s passing and, here in Ottawa, flags were lowered to half-mast until sunset on the day of her burial, Sept. 19.
The University of Ottawa subsequently followed suit, “in recognition of [Queen Elizabeth’s] decades of service as Queen of Canada and Head of State.”
Diane Pacom is an emeritus professor of Sociological and Anthropological Studies in the faculty of social sciences. The Fulcrum reached out to Pacom about how the death of the Queen will impact Canada and the Canadian people.
What are the socio-political implications of the Queen’s death?
“I think it’s absolutely essential that we speak about this event, because it’s unfortunately part and parcel of our recent history,” Pacom said.
She elaborated on the significance of Elizabeth’s rule. “I mean — this queen, she ruled for a huge amount of time. And also the fact that she was a woman ruler is very essential.”
Queen Elizabeth’s death marked the end of the longest-recorded female reign in history. She has been succeeded by her son, King Charles III. Pacom is unsure how this will play out.
“I don’t know. The francophone [media] asked me about Charles, and as a leader, I mean, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
How should Queen Elizabeth II’s role in the colonial expansion of the British Empire be accounted for?
Pacom says there is some redundancy to these conversations.
“We have already hanged them, you know, we have already tried and hanged them throughout the ’60s and ’70s … The 1960s were the era where every leader was literally deconstructed and criticized. And, so, it’s not like she was spared.”
Canada became an independent nation with its own constitution in 1982, though it remains part of the British Commonwealth. Today, support for the British monarchy continues to decline amongst Canadians, especially following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“As I said, … the 1960s and ’70s were horrible. It was my generation, we just decided we didn’t want any power, we didn’t need people to have power over us,” Pacom added.
Ultimately, she says conversations about the impact of colonialism should continue, particularly in universities.
“Colonialism has been criticized and deconstructed. It’s not like we haven’t done our share of criticism, and we should continue. We teach this stuff at the University. Believe me, when I went to school, those things were starting, but before that, colonialism was something nobody would teach at the university level. But we’ve come a long way and we should not stop.”
What is Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy in Canadian universities?
In 2012, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, and former Governor General of Canada David Johnston implemented the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program.
The program allows qualifying graduate students, designated as “Queen Elizabeth Scholars,” to “engage with communities across the globe, learn about cultures and create projects and actions that impact the world.” At the U of O, the merit-based scholarship is targeted to graduate students in science and technology.
Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service took place on Monday, Sept. 19.