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.

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