Upcoming Lost Stories for 2017
The Lost Stories Project — based at Concordia University — collects little-known stories about the Canadian past, transforms them into pieces of public art on appropriate sites, and documents the process through a series of short films available in English, French and other appropriate languages. Led by Concordia historian Ronald Rudin, in collaboration with professors from other universities and artists working in various media, the project has received support from the Canadian government’s Canada 150 fund to develop four new episodes for 2017.
Since Canada Day, the project has received over 150 stories from Canadians, of which four have been retained. Over the months to come, artists and filmmakers with connections to these stories will be commissioned to create four pieces of public art and four documentary films. The artwork will be inaugurated during summer 2017; and late in 2017, the documentary films will be made available on the project website: loststories.ca. The website has further detail about the four stories, and will provide regular project updates.
Lost Stories for 2017
Leprosy on Sheldrake Island, New Brunswick
Leprosy was a public health challenge along sections of the eastern coast of New Brunswick. Mostly afflicting Acadians, the problem was so severe that in 1844 the New Brunswick government sent thirty people suffering from leprosy to Sheldrake Island, at the mouth of the Miramichi River. They endured difficult conditions. Some escaped, and outrage over their situation resulted in their relocation in 1849 to a new facility, closer to their families. Artwork will be constructed on a site, on the grounds of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church, the white church building in the photo, that overlooks the island.
From the North to Ottawa’s Southway Inn
Why does a hotel in Ottawa’s south end fly the flag of Nunavut? The answer to this question is a story of family, home, and community, and one of Canada’s North and South. After opening in 1958 close to the city’s airport, the Southway Inn became a cherished place for people travelling to and from the Arctic. It was a wayfinder for new arrivals: Inuit men, women, and children seeking work, education, and healthcare. Ottawa has the largest urban Inuit population south of the Arctic, including many whose first relationship to the city began at the Southway Inn, where artwork will be installed.
Yee Clun and Regina’s “White Women’s Labour Law”
Yee Clun, a Regina restaurant owner, came to prominence in 1924, fighting a Saskatchewan law that required him to secure a municipal license to hire “white women” as employees. Following dramatic public hearings, his request for a license was rejected. In the end, this is a story of racial prejudice, but also one of the courage of Yee Clun (seated to the left in the front row) to challenge the law and of others who stood up for his cause. His story will be told in Regina’s Art Park, not far from Yee Clun’s home.
The Kidnapping of Stó:lō Boys During the Fraser River Gold Rush
The contemporary tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women makes clear the ongoing vulnerability of Indigenous youth. But the story of the kidnapping of Indigenous boys by miners during the 1858 Fraser River gold rush has been lost. One contemporary observer recorded, “a great many [Stó:lō] boys were stolen away” to California, most of whom “were never heard from” again, although at least two returned decades later. Families were devastated. One Stó:lō father “searched the woods for days… [and then] died of grief.” Memorial artwork will be installed on the bank of the Fraser River near Hope BC.