Sunday, July 01, 2018

Standing Corrected on Canada Day

Awareness is important. And ignorance, my own not knowing, flattens me. I don't like getting things wrong, especially if it's from my own lack of awareness. I don't like hurting people by excluding them, making them feel like they don't matter, losing connections with those who came long before me.
I don't want to miss the opportunity to celebrate everyone in this great nation of ours. I don't want to be part of the history of erasing people from our land.

Since the publication of Field Notes almost two years ago, I've expanded my knowledge and my awareness of Nova Scotia, through following other voices on Twitter and reading books by other Nova Scotia authors. I've paid attention, and I've learned.
This is a pretty amazing province and its history -- both the nasty and the remarkable -- is worth knowing, worth celebrating. (It's hard to believe I knew nothing about the Halifax Explosion until a couple of years before the 100th anniversary.)
I've made friends with Acadians, met the author of a cookbook celebrating Acadian food, interviewed Mi'kmaq people, and visited a farm in an area settled by Germans in the 1700's.
But it wasn't until Mother and I visited the South Shore last weekend that I put all of that together, and realized what I'd been missing as a writer. So as I stood in the LaHave River Bookstore for my evening reading, I admitted this to the group gathered there:

In a paragraph in  the opening essay of my book, I missed some important facts, and the publisher missed my omissions as well. We missed the fact that Nova Scotia is founded not by the British and the Scottish but by the Mi'kmaq. And the settlers of this province include not only the British and the Scottish but the French and the German as well.

So in honour of Canada Day, I'd like to offer this minor rewrite one sentence in the middle of the paragraph at the bottom of page 2:

"For a region that now honours its Mi'kmaq heritage, and celebrates its Scottish, British, French and German roots, and can claim a geological affiliation with Africa..."

Happy Canada Day to everyone who claims this red soil as their own, in shared community and history, with respect and gratitude.

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