CHC News: February Edition
January has been a busy month for the CHC! The month-long closure gave us the opportunity to check-in and turn our plans into action. We spent many hours in our historic railcar collection. A large part of maintaining such a beautiful collection of railcars is conservation which includes cleaning, minor repairs, and condition reporting. Curator Honor Neve helped guide us through the intricate and delicate process. We were each given a task, vacuuming, wet and dry dusting, cleaning windows, and detailing. We were able to make our way through twelve of the sixteen cars that we have open for tours. The four cars that we were unable to get to will be revisited in the spring when the weather is warmer, and we have our summer students to help. Regular cleaning and basic maintenance help protect the railcars, but we can only do so much. We cannot make any major repairs until we have the railcars covered and protected under the second half of the roof. This Project is a huge undertaking, but we will continue to do everything in our power to make it happen through fundraising and donations. Here is a quote from our Curator Honor on the Heritage Railcar Preservation Building Project,
Since the formation of the Cranbrook Archives, Museum and Landmark Foundation (now Society) in 1976, constructing a space to protect the unique and historically valuable collection of historic railcars has been our most crucial goal. With the realization of Phase 1 of the Heritage Railcar Preservation Building in 2019, the Cranbrook History Centre Board of Directors has been working towards the completion of Phase 2 of the 3 phased project. Once complete, the Project will also support the local community, stimulate partnerships, and regenerate tourism in the Kootenays. The 30,000 square ft structure will ultimately cover the entirety of the Cranbrook History Centre’s Railcar Collection and will provide a new, exciting, and accessible space for the community. Phase 2 will include accessible viewing platforms and interpretation space, enhanced lighting, washrooms and seating, and green infrastructure such as solar panels.
Throughout 2020 and 2021 the community fundraising efforts of CAMAL have been somewhat low-key, instead of focusing on sourcing and applying for grants to initiate the Project. Time has also been invested in strategic planning for the next phases of the Project. A major change to the next phase is our choice of building materials. As we all know, wood prices have skyrocketed, and the planned continuation of the timber-framed structure now, unfortunately, seems financially out of reach. However, all is not lost. The planning committee has been investigating steel for the next phase of construction as a financially viable plan B. The profile of the beautiful new building will be maintained and still allow for the enclosure of the building in the future phase 3.
Thank you to everyone who donated and supported the Project!
Resources on Anti-Racism In Honour of Black History Month
While learning about Anti-Racism, please remember that it is not a QTBIPOC (shorted for Queer and Transgender People of Colour) person’s responsibility to educate you, especially during Black History Month. If someone is kind enough to share their knowledge and energy with you, remember to be respectful and mindfully listen to what they are saying. Un-learning can be difficult, frustrating, and trigger an emotional response. With how rapidly things are changing and evolving, it can be hard to keep up with changing terminology, however, it has never been easier to educate ourselves. Below are some resources on Black history in Canada and organizations that are committed to uplifting Black communities in Canada.
The BC Black History Awareness Society website has a variety of free resources on Anti-Racism, Canadian Black History Organizations, and Definitions to help deepen public understanding of Black experiences in Canada. The BCBHAS has partnered with Digital Museums Canada to showcase their exhibit BC’s Black Pioneers: Their Industry and Character Influenced the Vision of Canada.
Inclusive Canada is one of the first social justice organizations that I followed. They are very active on social media and share concise and informative posts on issues in the world. Inclusive Canada has courses on anti-racism, events, and initiatives available on the website.
This website has many different categories to explore including history, educational resources, and blogs. The OBHS also has a YouTube page with educational videos and past live streams. Although this society is based out of Ontario, they share the stories of Black Canadians and bring light to the profound impact they had on Canadian history.
This 35-minute documentary is about a small black settlement in Halifax that was demolished in the 1960s. Remembering Africville shows a conversation amongst its residents discussing the discrimination they faced while trying to find work. Africville is Canadas Seneca Village.
Many Canadians are surprised to find out that we participated in slavery and segregation, but we did. This part of our history is often not included or watered down because it is not a favourable narrative. The virtual exhibit The Story of Slavery in Canadian History details Canada’s contribution to the slave trade under British rule and gives context to exclusionary policies put forward by the Canadian government in the modern era – many of which are still impacting BIPOC peoples today.
This virtual exhibit focuses on slavery in New France. Some of the language referencing Indigenous peoples is outdated, but the virtual exhibit is informative.
I want to acknowledge that I am white and that the tips below are lessons that I have taken from BIPOC creators, social media accounts, and blogs. With that being said, these are some easy steps that can be taken for anti-racism:
- Listen to the language that you use when speaking to or about BIPOC persons, including Indigenous peoples.
- Call out racist comments, jokes, and language. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but inaction and complacence normalize language and allow those behaviours to continue.
- If someone calls you out for something that you have said or done, listen and use this experience as an opportunity to learn. Listen and apologize, regardless of whether or not you intended to offend anyone.
- White voices do not need to be inserted into every conversation. Conversations about BIPOC experiences with racism do not need a white person’s perspective.
- Discussions about race do not need a devil’s advocate.
- Older generations should not be excused when they make racist remarks. Racism is racism, regardless of age or upbringing.
- If a BIPOC person tells you something that contradicts what I have written, listen to them! Research does not out way lived experience.
Anti-racism creates a welcoming environment so that everyone feels comfortable and valued. Everything that I have shared in this post can be applied to conversations about sexuality, gender identity, and ability. Conversations, research, and education related to anti-racism need to extend past days of recognition and celebration. I acknowledge that these conversations can be difficult. Thank you for staying with me.