Sunday, 24 November 2013

Growing Up

The realisation hit me today that in about 2 and a half weeks time i will be turning 21, even though this means i can now drink alcohol in America, it also means that i am getting older and growing up. Which got me thinking if i have grown up any since being in Canada. I like to think that i have, and i like to think its because i have been partaking in more events that are seemingly more cultural, rather than going out drinking all the time (that's mainly because drinking in Canada is fairly expensive :P)

Since i last wrote about my time in Canada i have done many things, as i wrote so long ago, both culturally and not. I went to on a bus tour to Peggy's cove (the most photographed place in Nova Scotia) and on to Ludenburg and Mahone Bay, where the tour guide, told us all about the history of the places we passes from islands where treasure is supposedly hidden to the church in which he got married. That evening i then went to an event called Nocturne that i had to go to for one of my courses and it is a city wide art event with people have art exhibitions in derelict buildings, on the street, down by the sea front and over the water in Dartmouth. It was lovely to see the streets so full of people and the unique exhibitions that were going on. My favourite were some fire breathers who not only breathed fire but also set themselves on fire!

I then went on a ghost walk at the Citidel, after hours and in the dark! This was probably not the best idea for someone who is freaked out by even the smallest thing :P But it was very interesting, and the scary was boosted up by a girl fainting half way through a ghost story, honestly thought she had seen something supernatural/been possessed. We got to go in to part of the citidel that people don't usually get to access, as well as walking inside the walls that surround the area.

I then spent an entire weekend at a leadership conference that was being held at my university, and it was an amazing weekend. I met loads of new people from all over the East Coast as well as learning about things that really interest me, and also was provided to endless amounts of food and Davids Tea :) I went to some really interesting talks on the sexualisation of campus', cross cultural differences that can hinder leadership as well as talks on being an exchange student (something i feel i know a lot about ;)). There were also some amazing key note speakers, one, called Jen Mcmillen nearly broke my heart! It was all about how privileged we are, or how little things can alter our privilege such as being able to buy an appropriate birthday or anniversary card for a partner. We then all rounded off the weekend with a lovely meal at the Boat house and our final key note speaker. All in all it was a lovely weekend and i got to meet some amazing people there too :)

Whilst i am here, i really wanted to pick up a new skill or hobby and last night i decided what that new skill would be, swing dancing :) I attended a swing dance event called 'swing with the fishes' and i loved it. Lessons were given, which was a god send because the extent of my dance experience is me thinking i can dance in a night club! It was all women in full skirts and men in bow ties and waistcoats, as well as a swing band playing and people would come up to you and ask you for a dance. I felt sorry for the people who asked me, with my two left feet and the fact they had to teach me how to dance :P. Needless to say, people will see me at swing dance lessons next semester ;) you have been warned!

And, even though i am scared about turning 21 in 2.5 weeks, in the same amount of time i am also flying to Montreal to spend 3 weeks there for Christmas and New Year :).

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Halifax: What we have learnt

Me (Vicky Clarke) and Harriet Lees are exchange students from the UK. The Halifax and the World course appealed to both me and Harriet because it gave us an opportunity to learn more and explore the city.

We soon found out that our perception of Halifax only reflected the British Colonial version of history. This shows how powerful dominant historical memory can be over others. However, we soon found out that there were many historical narratives, in particular the Mi'kmaq. All that we had learnt about the Mi'kmaq was not only completely new for us, but also for other students from Canadian heritage. The disparity between the dominant historical narrative and that of the Mi'kmaq became very clear when doing the map project as it was far more difficult to find examples of Aboriginal heritage in the city. However, we did learn about allyship and ways in which the two communities can come to a mutual understanding, but this is not an easy process as historical injustice has to be factored in, but also we need to move forward as a community.

Today, there is an ongoing redress of the balance between the historical narratives of both the Mi'kmaq and British Colonial. For example, the previously named 'Cornwallis High School' changed its name after campaigning by the aboriginal community that bought to light the genocide that Cornwallis ordered.

Since our time in Halifax, we have witnessed celebratory examples of Mi'kmaq culture, such as the Ma'wiomi, and Mi'kmaq performers at the arts event, Nocturne. These are examples of ways in which the aboriginal community can educate others and share their traditions.

We hope that reading this has helped you reconsider aboriginal culture and how you can't take the dominant historical narrative as face value.