Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Globe at the Museum of History

It's a bit late for an exhibition that opened most of more than a year ago and closes next month, but the other day the Globe and Mail's Robert Everett-Green reviewed the Rebellion and Confederation exhibit at the Museum of History. (Parts of an interview I did with the exhibit's curators appears in the exhibit and on its website.)

Everett-Green starts with the usual sneer at confederation for being a matter of talking (you know, democracy, parliamentarianism, reason, due process, all that) and therefore boring.
Canada was accomplished by talking, which was why I and my classmates found the story so dull. Real history, for us, was the bloodier national narratives of other countries.
He then moves on to dismiss as cynical -- and even as a surrender to Stephen Harper's military vision of history -- the curators' determination to link confederation to events of the previous thirty years  (armed conflict, civil strife, cultural confrontation, political deadlock).
It’s easy to see the former prime minister’s shadow over the current Confederation exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History, the institution he refashioned in 2013
The part of his review that has caught the most attention -- how I learned of it, actually -- is his observation that there is not much in it about indigenous peoples.

though Everett-Green also tells us, "What is accurate about the absence of indigenous people from this show is that it perfectly mirrors the imagined reality of those who wrote our first constitution." (Update, December 15:  Everett-Green's piece has been updated online to confirm there is more indigenous material in the exhibition than he had originally suggested.)
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