Going Outside of the Academy

“All historians are not public historians.”

Heritage Toronto’s Historical Plaques Program Coordinator Camille Bégin said this yesterday alongside Historica Canada’s Hayley Andrew, the Canadian Museum of History’s Jenny Ellison, and the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation’s Alison Norman during the “Doing it in Public: History Outside the Academy” roundtable.

I think the sentiment can go both ways. Wrapping up my first PhD year, I am around many students who, as historians, have little interest in engaging, discussing, and respecting the public audience. History, for them, does not mean interacting with contemporary publics online, in print, or within gallery spaces. It means talking to colleagues within their institution and publishing for those at other universities, keeping academic history within the walls of those who are understood as competent enough to “get” it.

Having worked at a variety of archives, libraries, and museums over the last few years, connecting and conversing with publics is, for me, what it is all about. I am constantly frustrated at the answers when I question what the point of doing history is if not for other people. With Ellison discussing how publics in the histories we study are respected in ways absent to how we sometimes deal with contemporary audiences, a push “to respect the public, not just educate the public” is therefore imperative. How are we supposed to be relevant historians if we refuse to do so?

Such discussions supplemented the collaborative “New Technologies in Historical Research” roundtable earlier that morning to insist that those doing history are sometimes not historians at all. Listening to Peter Baskerville, Dominique Clément, Ian Milligan, Reuben Rose-Redwood, Samantha Romano, and Sonja Aagesen, I was happy to hear about current interdisciplinary projects that greatly respected the skills and tools offered by people who may be geographers or computer scientists that are nevertheless doing history all the same. Working together within the academy alongside historians to build digital tools and data sets useful for the history that we do and the publics that we want to reach offers unheard of opportunity to work with the material at hand.

Approaching the next few years of dissertation work will, perhaps, be a solitary process for me if it is kept within the expected confines of academic practice. That there is some element of public engagement and collaboration within the academy beyond intense study, however, offers hope to the historian like me who wants their work to do something more than speak to itself.

I look forward to hearing how we continue to do so in Regina, Vancouver, and London.

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Can We Laugh About It?

Sometimes it seems like it is really tough to be anything but an angry historian.

A lot of us read, research, and write about gut-wrenching histories, which may be made even more so when we hold personal connections to the stories that we tell. Sometimes we cannot help but be frustrated by a museum stuck in antiquated practices. Other times, it takes what seems like unheard of patience to engage with hard-headed publics and professionals when our work gets political. It seems that the work that we do as historians often gives us little recourse apart from mobilizing the past in an attempt to satiate our anger at present circumstance.

First thing Monday morning, however, Histoire Engagée’s Mathieu Arsenault warned a CHA panel on “Historians and Advocacy” against Histoire enragée. Alongside David Dean, Sarah Nickel, and chair Gregory Kealey—who read an absent Natalie Zemon Davis’ contribution—here was a room full of historians frustrated by attempts of depoliticization and administrative barriers that remained devoted to figuring out how to use their platforms within the academy for better practices both inside and outside of it. Tenured professors encouraged their peers in the room of a felt responsibility to speak out and speak up for those still developing their careers, putting themselves on the line in an era of contract precariousness for up-and-coming academics. It was a refreshing example of professional solidarity and responsibility that has an important place in the conversations of social media discussed in yesterday’s post.

Later that afternoon in a standing-room only lecture hall set to discuss urban education, indigenous youth, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action at “Remembering Our Past: Rethinking the Next 150 Years and Beyond,” we heard anger, heart-break, and frustration. But it was not that histoire enragée Arsenault cautioned against earlier. Rather, it was resilient, engaged, and at work. Anger at the realities discussed by Kevin Lamoureux’s experience as an educator in Winnipeg’s North End was palpable. But this was also a room full of glee, chuckling at his banter with Frank Deer. And, with Catherine Tammaro creating a welcoming community space, it was safe.

Here I was at one of the most difficult sessions to witness as an audience member at Congress 2017. And I, among the rest of those in the room, found myself laughing.

This led me back to the “Decolonizing 1867” workshop on Sunday night. In reflecting on Helen Knott’s work as artist, student, and mother, she displayed a fierceness in activism and anger as well as one in friendship and love. She pointed to displays of both joy and frustration throughout current and past indigenous processes of colonization and decolonization in this country.

Here was a display of sentiment multiplicity and complication, finding benefits in the operationalization of both.

Yesterday, two panelists on the “Collecting and Exhibiting Childhoods: Museums, Archives, and the History of Children and Youth” roundtable discussed their respective professional experience with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Expressing frustration over past museum practice and current barriers to timely applications of self-critical museology regarding indigenous histories in particular, both agreed that the museum’s forward-thinking in all things accessibility was one space where their advocacy was unnecessary because it was already embedded in that institution’s museological practice.

Here was relief.

The reasons why and the answers to how our given activisms as historians make us go into an archive, into the media, or into a community offer examples through the power of anger at injustice both within and beyond our own personal attachments.

So, of course, stay angry about the things that need to be changed until they are, as encouraged by Guy Laforest during yesterday’s AGM. But let’s not forget the power of the things that we can also achieve by sharing stories of resilience, laughter, and learning that focus on the good of the work that we do and the spectacular that we find in the histories that we disseminate.

It will not negate the hard histories that we tell. But it will give them nuance, humanize historical actors, and make its conversation with the present an active, informed, and hopeful one.

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Do it for the Exposure

I am Facebook Friends with Dave Bidini. In 2015, with Stephen Harper up for re-election, I worked with him and a bunch of other musicians, artists, and supporters who were trending #ImagineOct20th. Together, people were curating and organizing concerts across the country to get Canadians to imagine the day after the election when someone else won the seat of federal power.

I do not say this to brag about my CanCon arts links or my left-leaning politics. To be honest, the social media connection is not a huge feat. Bidini is, in fact, approaching 5000 Facebook Friends and has over 3000 Followers. I say this because it seemed particularly relevant to me during yesterday afternoon’s History and Social Media roundtable. What I have gained from networking with artists like Bidini is an activist arts presence in my life that I desire to see in other historians’ social media presence beyond published journal articles and textbooks.

Featuring Daniel Ross, Jessica DeWitt, Adam Gaudry, Andrea Eidinger, Alexandre Turgeon, and Sarah York-Bertram, the session moderated by Sean Kheraj and supported by ActiveHistory.ca did more than suggest preferred platforms and a shared love of Twitter analytics.

Rather, I have not been able to forget DeWitt’s responses since it wrapped up. Being adamant that a social media presence ought not to be separate from the person behind the medium is, I think, a powerful and impressive stance for her to take. A degree of professionalism is, of course, important to the way historians engage with their online publics. But that has to be balanced with engaging content from an interesting expert that can reach those both within the field and outside of it. If we only appear as historians facing the public—in effect, hiding the multiplicity of our individual identity—does this not dehumanize and detach us from the world that we live in?

We also exist in an era of evermore precarious employment. As discussed yesterday, graduate students in history departments fear a poorly worded, irrelevant, or too political Tweet could spell their ruin in the academy. And it is a fair concern.

This, in turn, brings me to my second reflection from the session: the ever-present argument of exposure. Last year, Bidini wrote a Facebook post seeking information about the fallout of 2016’s Greenbelt Harvest Picnic where artists were not getting paid for their performances due to a contract loophole. I recall someone responding in the comments with something to the extent of, “In Canada, you could die of exposure.”

In the national arts community, this remains a common sentiment. And it seems to be ever applicable to the young historian seeking to carve their way in an academy that has increasingly limited opportunities within it. So some of us are creating our own path by using the accessible tools that social media offers.

Looking to those in the arts, we can learn from the ways that musicians, photographers, and other creatives balance the benefits of exposure and fair pay for their labour. Graduate students tweeting, blogging, and generating online content for “exposure” ought to look to these examples for solace, alliance, and development that exceeds the expectations and limits of the academy.

I further will venture to say that no historian worth their salt is *only* a historian. Those within and beyond the Canadian Historical Association are, of course, people with a passion and a talent for history. But they are also more than that. The things that make us different from our colleagues ought to therefore find applicable value to combining variety with our field’s shared methods to reach a more diverse output.

I am a historian who has worked in media, museums, and behind musician merch tables. These experiences do not make me any less of a historian. Rather, I am confident in saying that they actually probably make me a better historian. And I, for one, do not think that any of us should be hiding who we are under the guise of a perhaps outdated genre of expected professional development trajectories that the academy no longer provides.


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On “Decolonizing 1867;” Or, Why I’m Hopeful for the #CHASHC2017

For weeks, I have been anticipating the opening of the Canadian Historical Association’s (CHA) annual conference because it meant that “Decolonizing 1867: Stories from the People” would be here. Organized by Stacy Nation-Knapper and Kathryn Magee Labelle and supported by the LR Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University, this event brought together artist Catherine Tammaro, Dr. Brittany Luby, graduate student Naomi Recollet, poet Helen Knott, doctoral student Jesse Thistle, and Dr. Carolyn Podruchny in a Ryerson University classroom to discuss how to approach the discussions we are and need to be having surrounding Canada 150 beyond some sort of celebratory remembrance of Confederation.

I am sure that my first few hours of the CHA were similar to others experiencing, like me, their first Congress. Colleagues from other institutions kindly introduce themselves simply because you happen to sit beside them. You see former co-workers, panel mates, or current classmates, seeking a quick catch-up over the days, months, or years that have passed since you last saw each other. And you jump in to the learning that can be gained from an impromptu car ride, coffee run, or shared train ride home, prepping yourself to do it all again the next day. And the next day. And the day after that.

But when organizer instructions ask you to form a circle in the lecture hall, eat catered food, and listen to the presenters before being invited yourself to join into the conversation as audience member, something feels different. This is not what I have been told to expect from a conference session.

And it only got better.

What happened last night was a session of learning, multidisciplinarity, and indigeneity. In displays of emotion and creativity, the discussion went from activist stance to treaty study through painting and poetry as well as linguistics and history, all meeting in a space of resistance and resilience. This was all taken in and informed, I think, by Labelle’s invitation to “be brave and contribute to the conversation” given at the session’s outset.

Among many takeaways, it was an echo of Labelle’s direction that remained with me as Knott introduced herself as an “accidental activist” needing to “resist or be run over” before blowing the crowd away with her words. It stuck with me while I listened to the implications of Luby’s captivating grammatical reading of Treaty 3. And I hope that it continues to stay forefront in my mind through the next three days of panel, lecture, and workshop attendance that I have in front of me.

Focused as I intend to be on seeking out sessions discussing the ways art and culture intersect with public history practice and the conversations we need to be having regarding Canada 150 both within and beyond the academy, perhaps this start ought to be heeded as a call to do the CHA differently.

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The Last Day and still lots to see!

The last day of a conference always seems a little sad to me since it’s a day to say last good-byes while still catching all the panels and activities possible.

My first panel was The Stories Staples Tell; Resource Economies in Canada with Colin Coates (York University), Jim Clifford (University of Saskatchewan), Andrew Watson (University of Saskatchewan), and Anne Dance (Memorial University).  The panel began with a discussion of how the staples thesis has been set out and what new digital history techniques can add to this area.  Coates showed how text mining can help to show previously overlooked staple products or unnoticed distribution trends. The use of digital history techniques  enables large numbers of documents to be examined and analyzed in different ways.  Coates gave an  example of a Wordle analysis of Innis’ classic work which showed an emphasis on fish, fur, and wheat.  He also explained the Trading Consequences site and closed the presentation with the suggestion that this type of research can propose new stories of economic activity.  Since the staples thesis has become so widely known – a classic – I was excited by the idea of re-examining it in this way and the idea that a more micro-level approach might yield new insights.

Up next were Jim Clifford and Andrew Watson who used the Trading Consequences site in their own work on London’s Ghost Acres which uses a MediaWiki and examines how commodities production in other places supported and fed the city of London.  Canadian cheese, for example, dominated the overall cheese imports to Britain.  As it’s a big project with lots of potential commodities to examine Watson suggested that they would be interested in collaborative work.  A blog on the NiCHE site about this will be coming soon!

Anne Dance brought the panel into more contemporary times with a look at the last three decades of dealing with contaminated sites in Canada. She suggest looking at the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory to get an idea of the scale of the issue but also provided a map of the sites – there were a lot of points on it!  Her work uses a lot of grey literature and government reports.  Since my own project also uses a lot of similar literature it was great to hear it discussed within another context and to get another perspective on its uses and limitations.  Dance noted that the next part of the project will be to look at the same topic with a “bottom up” approach.   The reclamation approaches initially took a southern approach to northern sites which meant that solutions, such as the importation of fresh topsoil, were impractical.  The shift to more northern-focused solutions has created jobs in reclamation and a new spin on the idea of contaminated sites; remediation is now portrayed less as fixing failure and more as economic development and investment in the future. With the rise in the remediation industry could this, Dance mused, become a new part of the staples story?

After this panel I decided to  go to the poster exhibit.  It was great to see the posters from many different historians show-casing such a wide range of topics from emotional labour in community engaged research to representations of Western Canadian identity on menus (aptly put behind the coffee the CHA office was offering).  The posters for me were a way to get a quick snapshot of research.  Sadly I didn’t come across many of the poster presenters to ask questions but next year I’ll make sure to attend the presentation session so I can do just that.  I’ve tweeted photos of all the posters if you’re curious about them. Next up I headed to the Expo where I spent an enjoyable time browsing through the books on offer.  I always have trouble deciding on which books to buy when I have only a little room in my suitcase for them.  Fortunately I was able to get books shipped to my home which made the decisions easier especially when some of the books I wanted were available only for pre-order.

I presented in the afternoon.  Shout out to the audience members for showing up at the last panel of a very busy day!  My panel was Sustaining a Fragile West: Environmental Myths and Realities will Claire Campbell (Bucknell University) and Frances Reilly (University of Saskatchewan).  I enjoyed having a chance to share my own research with an audience and to see the presentations from my fellow panel members.  Reilly presented on the Alberta Rat Patrol and how its early messaging echoed messaging around the fear of communist encroachment.  Campbell looked at the Bar U Ranch and how its history is celebrated without putting ranching into its context as an extractive industry.  My own presentation focused on the changes in the nitrogen balance and soil fertility of the Saskatchewan RM of Wise Creek which was part of the international Sustainable Farm Systems Project.

With the panels done and the CHA officially finished it was time to take the evening to enjoy Calgary.  A friend took me to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary where I was delighted to see geese, deer, and swallows.  As we walked across a bridge we came face to nose with a porcupine!  After mutual and careful observation we both decided to return the way we’d come.  The porcupine sighting was a delightful end to my Calgary Congress and CHA experience.   I want to thank the CHA Graduate Students’ Committee for giving me this chance to share my experiences at the CHA with all of you.  I hope you enjoyed Congress as much as I did.

Goodbye Calgary!

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Un autre Congrès prend fin

Une journée plus tard et de retour chez moi, voici ma dernière contribution à ce blog concernant le Congrès et SHC.  L’aventure a certes été au rendez-vous.

Ma dernière journée au Congrès et à la réunion du SHC a été plus courte que les autres journées.  J’ai dû prendre l’avion tôt dans l’après-midi afin de pouvoir prendre le transit de l’aéroport jusque chez moi.  Cela dit, j’ai manqué la première session à 8h30 car mon alarme n’a pas sonné (à moins que je ne l’ai pas entendue).  J’ai donc seulement réussi à me rendre à un panel qui me semblait très intéressant.  Le panel «La narration du passé visuel » ne toucha pas nécessairement à mon projet de recherche mais présentait un concept et des idées concernant la façon dont les historiens et les historiens d’art utilise leurs sources comme évidence.  Erin Morton nous a présenter le cas d’un artiste dit folk et de l’utilisation, et la façon dont les pièces de cet artiste ont été placé dans un musée afin de créer une sorte d’histoire du Canada et un récit qui raconte l’histoire des pionniers au Canada.  Susan Cahill présenta son projet d’art visuel en ligne ou elle espère pouvoir obtenir, éventuellement, la participation du public qui créerait des récits et la narration de ces pièces d’arts visuels après les évènements du 11 Septembre 2001.  La surveillance, dans ce contexte, est un modèle heuristique qui peut être utilisé pour encadrer le projet.  Continuant dans le monde virtuel, John Bonnett présenta les applications possibles du monde des jeux vidéos et de la cartographie GIS afin de créer un récit plus complexe avec une narration alternative.  La convergence de plusieurs catégories analytiques peut être utilisé pour présenter la narration de façon cohésive tout en maintenant l’hétérogénéité de la population en question.  Par exemple, Bonnett démontre que nous pouvons inscrire à chaque édifice sur une carte en trois dimension, l’ethnicité de tous les résidents et ensuite, nous pouvons y inscrire, par une autre couleur, la class socio-économique des résidents.  Ce processus pourrait continuer avec plusieurs autres catégories.  L’ajout de chaque catégorie change et présente la variabilité dans le récit.  Le panel termina avec une longue période de questions ouvertes, ce qui m’a permis de voir et d’écouter les questions de l’audience surtout en ce qui concerne la façon dont nous utilisons les textes comme source primordial d’évidence en histoire et qu’en histoire de l’art, le visuel est présenté comme source d’évidence plus légitime que le texte.  La discussion passa donc plusieurs minutes sur le sujet afin de conclure que les deux sont utiles et doivent être utilisés en conjonction l’un avec l’autre.

Après la session, ce fût un trajet rapide à l’aéroport pour mon retour à Waterloo.  Heureusement, j’ai pu suivre les présentations suivantes, surtout celles concernant l’enseignement de l’histoire après le rapport du CVR, sur Twitter #CHASHC2016.  Une réflexion sur mon temps au Congrès et au SHC en particulier m’a aidé à voir que ce que je pensais ressortir le plus du Congrès, soit les présentations, n’était qu’une petite partie de mon aventure.  Les discussions après les présentations, des fois au restaurant ou au pub, et les rencontres que j’ai pu faire avec d’autres personnes qui sont sincèrement merveilleux et intéressés dans les mêmes projets que moi m’ont donné plus que des connections, mais des amis.  J’ai fait le parcours du Congrès et j’ai eu des moments que je n’oublierai jamais.  Une amie et moi sommes partis à la recherche de la statue d’Hippocrate dans la faculté de médecine afin d’y prendre une photo pour une amie et nous avions eu toute une aventure qui inclus une course frénétique dans la pluie que je dirais presque torrentielle et une série de photos à un village historique.

Tout considéré, malgré le fait que certains panels ont été réorganisés, la réunion de la SHC et de la SCHM furent décidemment de grands succès et j’ai hâte à l’année prochaine lorsque le Congrès sera à Toronto à Ryerson.

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A Tour and a Party

Today I was feeling comfortable on the U of C campus – the signs were familiar and I could landmark from the statues that are scattered around the campus. The first panel I chose was one of which looked interesting but wasn’t related to my area. Canadian Children’s Television History: Nationalism, Regulation, and the Formation of Canadian Identities made me curious because I had enjoyed a presentation at another conference on the NFB film Ti-Jean Goes West and how it represented region and children in Canada so I wanted to see more work about Canadian media.  I also admit to being hopeful that as a media history panel there would be some clips for childhood cartoons.

It did not disappoint!  Prior to the panel beginning they played the theme from The Racoons to get the audience in the proper mood.  Katherine Rollwagen (Vancouver Island) looked at how Canadians thought of television when it was first being introduced into Canada by looking at the Fowler Commission.  There was a concern making sure Canadian content would be played and that it would be educational for young viewers.  Matthew Hayday (University of Guelph) looked at the battle to keep Sesame Street as part of regular television programming when the CRTC ruled that it did not count toward Canadian content.  He showed a letter from one mother to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau that appealed to him as a fellow parent.

Letter to Prime Minister

A letter to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

After this panel I hoped the C-Train to downtown Calgary – a quick and easy 15 minute ride.  At Centre Street I saw the Calgary Tower and found my way to the Glenbow.  Prior to getting to the CHA I had signed up for the CHA Aboriginal Studies Group organized tour of the Glenwbow museum.    When I first saw the email I was immediately enthusiastic about doing the tour because it promised a tour of the backrooms and, as a friend of mine who works in museums told me, the backrooms always have the best things.   The first part of the tour was led by Sheldon First Rider, a Blackfoot educator, who took us through the Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of Life exhibit and told us his personal journey as a member of the Blood Tribe.  It was an honour to hear his story.   It seemed to me that many people were thinking about what we had just seen and heard as we headed to lunch.  The spicy butternut squash soup and complimentary buffet provided the tour with an opportunity to reflect and to take time to chat informally with each other.

The first stop after lunch was the Archives and Library at the Glenbow where we saw the shelves holding thousands of photo negatives in the archives collection, and learned about the collection’s focus on the area directly around Calgary.  The oldest book in the library is a manual on treating horses, reflecting the interests of the Glenbow’s founder Eric Harvie whose collecting started the library and museum collections.  Afterward we rode the elevator to the archives floor where we were met by the curator who had pulled several artifacts from the Glenbow’s collection of Indigenous artifacts.  One of them was a carved stone bison which was shortly to be going on tour.  We were lucky to see it since it is a piece that tours often.

The bison carving

We were also shown masks, treaty medals, and a coat made from seal intestine, to name just a few.  As part of our viewing of the collection items we also heard about the Glenbow’s protocols for working with Indigenous peoples to repatriate artifacts and collaborate with them in terms how items are collected, stored, and displayed. The tour ran long but it was one of those tours that you don’t want to end since amazing pieces continued to be revealed. The last was a car hidden by a piece of sheeting. It turned out to be the car from Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ Pedal to the Meddle art piece.  But all good things must end and we emerged into the lobby of the Glenbow as the afternoon was waning.

With only a couple hours before Cliopalooza began I decided to enjoy what downtown Calgary offered.  In my wandering I found a lovely walking path by the river and managed to spy not just the usual ducks enjoying the water but a beaver as well.  The statues that dot the downtown made useful landmarks and after investigation one of those statues turned out to be pictured on the front of the front cover of my CHA program guide.

Cliopalooza was held in the Legion 1 building where the CCF was first founded in 1932. Naturally as somebody with an interest in both grain and agrarian politics this was my first stop on arriving at Cliopalooza. The evening was a great way to run into old friends who I’d missed seeing at the day’s events and the dance floor was full of historians.

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2e journée: la nostalgie au rendez-vous

Ma deuxième journée au SHC a été très intéressante.  Par chance, j’ai rencontré plusieurs de mes collègues et professeurs.  J’ai rencontré ma superviseure et des collègues de Winnipeg que je n’avais pas vu depuis le mois d’août et même des collègues datant de mes années à UNB.  Après une réunion assez rapide, je suis allée à ma première session du matin.  Je vais vous fournir un petit indice concernant le sujet de la session.  J’espère bien que la nostalgie était au rendez-vous pour vous autant que pour moi en écoutant le petit clip.

Le panel («L’histoire des émissions de télévision canadiennes pour enfants : le nationalisme, la réglementation et la formation des identités canadiennes ») présenta, en examinant des sources peu utilisées, des questions concernant l’éducation des enfants, la télévision et des questions de nationalisme à travers l’histoire de programmation télévisés pour enfants.  Malheureusement, Daniel Macfarlane, qui allait présenter sa recherche concernant l’émission de télévision, The Raccoons, n’a pu être présent.  Par contre, la chanson thème de l’émission fut joué en début de session.  La session consista donc de deux merveilleuses présentations.  En première place, Katharine Rollwagen présenta l’histoire des émissions pour enfants et surtout des débats concernant la qualité du contenu.  En 1961, d’après le recensement canadien, il y avait plus de maisons avec des télévisions qu’avec des toilettes ! Selon sa recherche, la télévision et la programmation pour enfants était en fait encouragé par les parents.

Matthew Hayday, nous présenta un regard à la programmation pour enfants à travers l’évolution et la « Canadianisation » d’une émission spécifique, Sesame Street.  Les parents Canadiens insistèrent pour la continuation du programme, malgré un contenu majoritairement américain.  Certaines des meilleures anecdotes de la présentation inclurent un petit vidéoclip du contenu canadien inclus dans la programmation américaine, une promotion par la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson qui encourageait les clients de donner leur opinion concernant Sesame Street et une lettre adressée au premier ministre Pierre Trudeau. Heureusement, pour la francophone en moi, il y a eu une petite discussion de cette merveille de ma jeunesse.


Parents et enfants qui protestent l’annulation de Sesame Street. Le lendemain, le programme a fait son retour à la television à Kingston.


Lettre d’un parent concernant l’importance de Sesame Street comme programme éducatif.

Après la session, je suis allée écouter plusieurs historiennes renommées – Sarah Carter, Lara Campbell, Tarah Brookfield, Heidi MacDonald, Denyse Baillargeon, Lianne Leddy, Joan Sangster et Darcy Cullen – présenter leur recherche concernant une collaboration pour une série de livres qui réexaminent le suffrage des femmes au Canada dans un contexte impérial, colonial, Britannique, et régional.  La session (« Les femmes canadiennes, le suffrage et les droits de la personne ») a certainement piqué mon intérêt et j’attends avec impatience la publication de la série.  Heidi MacDonald, qui étudie la question du suffrage dans les provinces de l’Atlantique oppose l’historiographie passé et propose que le suffrage des femmes a été un processus, long, ardu, et difficile.

Après cette session, durant l’heure du midi, j’ai eu la chance de rencontré Tarah Brookfield, qui avait présenté son projet dans la session précédente.  Tarah avait enseigné un de mes cours d’histoire de l’enfance cette année.  Elle m’a indiqué qu’il y avait une réunion pour le groupe d’histoire de l’enfance et de la jeunesse.  Étant donné mes intérêts, j’ai décidé d’y participer et eu le plaisir de rencontrer plusieurs autres académiques étudiant la jeunesse.

L’après-midi m’a vu considérer la place du corps et des politiques du corps dans l’histoire à la session «Nationalités incarnées : la race, le genre et l’appartenance dans une perspective historique.»  Pour Donica Belisle et Amy Shaw, les politiques du corps, que ce soit à travers la mode (Belisle) ou la description de l’armée Canadienne lors de la guerre Boer (Shaw), sont liés à la représentation du Canada idéal.  Dans le contexte Américain, Sharon Romeo, présenta un cas intéressant pour les femmes esclaves Africaines américaines recherchant asile à St. Louis, Missouri lors de la guerre civile aux Etats-Unis.

Terminant une longue journée, j’ai décidé d’assister à la réunion annuelle des membres de la société.  La rencontre fût un peu longue, naturellement, mais m’a certainement donné une bonne idée du travail que la société fait pour encourager la recherche dans le domaine des humanités.

La fin de la réunion, pour moi, marqua la fin de ma journée.  Je suis retourné à l’hôtel afin de me reposer un peu, donc j’ai manqué Cliopalooza.  En tout, ce fût une journée remplie d’aventures, de nostalgie et belles rencontres.

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Première journée – SHC à Calgary

Bonjour à tous !  Je suis Vanessa Quiring et pendant les prochains jours, je vais vous présenter mon expérience au Congrès et surtout en ce qui concerne la conférence annuelle du SHC !

Laissez-moi vous dire quelques mots à propos de moi et de mes intérêts, ce qui vous aideras certainement à comprendre les choix de sessions auxquels je vais assister. Je viens tout juste de terminer ma première année en tant qu’étudiante au doctorat en histoire à l’Université de Waterloo intéresser par l’histoire de la médecine et de la jeunesse au Canada.  Le programme de cette année est plein de sessions concernant la santé et la jeunesse, qui fera de moi une étudiante bien contentée !

C’est la première fois que je participe au Congrès en tant qu’étudiante.  Il y a quelques années, je travaillais à la bibliothèque de l’université du Nouveau-Brunswick lorsque le Congrès était tenu à l’université.  Disons que j’ai certainement eu de l’expérience du côté de l’organisation et de la préparation pour un événement de cette taille et que l’organisation par le SHC et le Congrès jusqu’à date est à point jusqu’à date.

Cela fait déjà deux jours que je suis à Calgary car j’ai participé aux sessions de la Société Canadienne pour l’histoire de la médecine.  C’est donc avec plaisir que j’ai pu lire sur le programme que la SCHM et la SHC ont collaborés pour nous apporter deux sessions sur la médecine !  Cela ne fut pas trop compliqué à choisir les sessions auxquelles j’allais participer.

J’ai donc passé la première partie de mon avant-midi dans une session – Histoires personnelles et récits institutionnels racontés par des médecins, des scientifiques et des universitaires germanophones éxilés 1930 – 1960 –  avec un thème qui abordait la question de psychiatres et autres pratiqueurs de médecine dites, psychologique ou neurologique, qui furent obligés ou décidèrent de quitter le pays et leurs emplois pour travailler ailleurs essayer de reconstituer leurs vies.  Les présentateurs – Aleksandra Loewenau (Université de Calgary), Paul Stortz (Université de Calgary) et Guell Russell – ont réussi à mettre en contexte l’expérience de neuroscientifiques quittant l’Allemagne pour d’autres pays, souvent sous une initiative afin d’éviter d’être obligé de travailler avec le régime Nazi pendant les années 1930 et 1940.  Une deuxième présentation observa la position de réfugiés juifs pendant et après la deuxième guerre mondiale à l’université de Toronto tandis que la troisième présenta le parcours d’un médecin dans trois pays.

Étant donné que la SCHM était encore en cours, j’ai participé à une autre session le matin qui discutait et analysait l’histoire de l’hémophilie et des traitements pour l’hémophilie avec l’histoire du VIH/SIDA intitulé Reflection.  Le panel fût principalement organisé par des médecins – Robert Card, Man-Chiu Poon, et Nicole Shedden – ce qui nous rappelle l’importance d’étudier l’histoire de la médecine non seulement afin d’étudier l’histoire mais afin de comprendre le contexte qui encadre les discussions des méthodes utilisés pour traiter l’hémophilie.  Carol Nash à même offert une idée de l’importance de participé à un projet de réflexion de soi en tant qu’historiens.

Nous avons pris une pause pendant l’après-midi.  J’ai fait mon chemin à l’expo de livres et pris le temps de parcourir tous les rayons pour observer les livres en histoire et santé publiés récemment.  Un retour à l’hôtel après une longue journée et fin de semaine m’a permis de me reposer et on recommence le trajet aujourd’hui.  Jusqu’à date, j’ai rencontré ce que je qualifierais de mes héros en histoire, ceux qui m’ont influencé à poursuivre mes études.

Je vous laisse avec ça pour l’instant car je vais être en retard pour une autre session ce matin si je continue.

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Day 1 – CHA in Calgary

Good evening from the first full day of this year’s Canadian Historical Association (CHA) Conference at Congress 2016. This year we’re on the University of Calgary (U of C) campus and I’ll be your Graduate Student Anglophone blogger for this year.

First, a bit about me. I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Saskatchewan focusing on trains and grains or to be more formal grain transportation history during the Pierre Trudeau-era and the associated environmental and human implications. As you might have guessed my interests lie primarily in Canadian, Environmental and Transportation history. Looking through this year’s program I saw a diverse array of panels that are of obvious interest to me and others that sound like they would provide me with a glimpse into a new area of scholarship. When I attend any conference I always try to find a balance between seeing panels that are within my areas of interest and trying those that might point me in new directions.

I arrived at Congress after having the opportunity to participate in NiCHE’s  CHESS program which was an intensive weekend of learning about bison around Banff National Park and the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. After registration with Congress, a process that included a tantalizing peak at the offerings from various publishers, I picked up my CHA program. Fortunately the CHESS group I was with included some U of C alumni who acted as tour guides for those of us who were new to campus.

CHESS participants arrive at Congress. From @anneriitta

CHESS participants arrive at Congress. Courtesy of @anneriitta

Sunday evening I looked at Andrea Eidinger’s great Beginner’s Guide to the CHA (if this is your first CHA definitely take a sec to check it out!) which also came with her recommendations for panels to see.

I like to tweet the panels I’m at so you can always scroll through my twitter feed (@triticum_red) but here’s a quick overview of the panels I saw today.

Monday morning I had an early start with a panel that started at 8:30 am. Thanks to the help of the Congress volunteers it was easy to find my way to Science A-13 and the morning’s first panel Limited Identities, Limited Loyalties: Western Canadian Agriculture, Exhibition, and Empire in the First World War. Will Pratt (University of Lethbridge) opened the panel discussing agricultural production on the Treaty 7 Reserves that included communal equipment and successful harvests. Shannon Murray (Calgary Stampede) followed with an examination of how the messaging of the Calgary Exhibition (yes, the famous Stampede wasn’t in Calgary for a time!) during the war years and Andrew McEwen (University of Calgary) closed the panel by showing the issues, including prices and transportation distances, surrounding the purchases of remounts in Canada. To me this was a great example of a panel were the presentations had obvious ties to each other so that the information from one presentation complimented other presentations.

I had wanted to also see Canadian History Blogging: A Conversation Between Editors and was lucky to find that attendees to that panel were live-tweeting it. Following the #CHASHC2016 hashtag was the closest I could get to being in two panels at once. For me, following #CHASHC2016 is a great way to find out about other sessions where there may be ideas or people who I want to try to follow up with.

Next up was the keynote address Memory and Mobility: Grandma’s Mahnomen, White Earth with Jean O’Brien (University of Minnesota). I think the sign of great talk is when the floor is opened for questions the audience needs a second to gather their courage to ask and then the questions come quickly. Judging by that metric this was definitely an excellent key note! O’Brien deftly intertwined her family’s personal history – as recorded by her Grandmother – with the larger narratives in USA history about Indigenous labour, dispossession, and mobility.  It was a reminder that family histories can be just as important as the “big” histories and that those family histories can speak to them.

Lunch was spent in the Congress social area with friends. As one would expect at lunch time the social areas was bustling with activity and I caught bits of a lot of conservations that were commenting on the morning’s presentations from many different associations. This was our lunch time conversation too along with a hearty dose of agonizing over what panels to see in the afternoon. We all wanted to make the 1:00 pm start so lunch was done quickly as we hurried back across to the Science A building. Having gone the same way in the morning the route was starting to feel a little familiar!

Having my own experience trying to request access to documents I really wanted to see Information Commissioner of Canada Suzanne Legault’s presentation. It did not disappoint! We got a clear overview of the recommended changes her office is suggesting to the Access Act. The Canadian Access to Information Act is considered the grandfather/mother of Access Acts. Greg Kealey (University of New Brunswick) and Bill Waiser (University of Saskatchewan) provided commentary on Legault’s talk and they both emphasized that access to information is critical not just for historians but for Canadians as a whole. Legault noted that there are public consultations on access to information happening now that need input. Bill Waiser reminded the audience that the CHA has been advocating on our behalf about access but it’s important that CHA members also raise their own voices to show support for better access. As Kealey pointed out access to information is important to democracy.

After that it was obvious that the best follow up would be Hot Docs: The Politics of Archives, Ethics, and Protocols with Steve Hewitt (University of Birmingham), Patrizia Gentile (Carleton University), Isabelle Perreault (Université d’Ottawa), Christabelle Sethna (University of Ottawa) and Marie-Claude Thifault (Université d’Ottawa) discussed archival documents they’ve worked with that have sensitive information or potentially upsetting revelations in them. It was a provocative panel and Sethna suggested that perhaps a best practices guide needs to be developed for how to work with declassified or sensitive documents.

Science A building at U of C where I spent a lot of the day.

Science A building at U of C where I spent a lot of the day.

I’m grateful to all the other CHA attendees who were tweeting from panels because the afternoon was filled with panels that I was curious about. Through twitter I got to see snippets of panels on Dominion Experimental Farms, Acadian Soldiers, Energy use in Canada, and Indigenous land use to name just a few examples.

If you want to see where I’m at during the day without waiting for the blog follow me @triticum_red. Cliopalooza is tomorrow evening and I hear it’s always fun. Until then I’m spending the last of the evening trying to pick tomorrow’s panels.

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