I’ve been transcribing our conversations with the seniors. Now that we’ve made a few trips to visit them and gather their stories, there are themes and patterns that have already started to emerge. I am taking note of what would be considered a shared experience, and trying to watch for the overarching themes with our Canada 150th celebrations in mind. What does it mean to collect these stories? What am I gathering when I transcribe them? What exactly is being learned, remembered, shared?
The experience of a world war is prevalent in the vast majority of these stories. It is so abundantly clear that every single person alive during these monumental events was directly affected in some way. We’ve met multiple war brides, and I notice that the experience of Canadian seniors is particularly coloured by this experience. So many people had to make their way – by choice, deliberately- to Canada from another place they previously thought of as home.
The stories of these travels are arduous and often dangerous and with many stops along the way. As someone who has lived in Canada my whole life, the idea of this undertaking – often when young, or newly married, a child or nearly – is mind-boggling. These stories are told with a shared tinge of “well dear that’s just what had to be done”.
There is a resilience that has come out of these experiences of war, and an appreciation for what it means to become Canadian by choice rather than chance. Even in the early stages, this project of collecting is a learning experience.
Brenda Dunn artinjest