Canada: Day 1

From time to time our Know History team members contribute stories to the History Hub on things that inspire and interest them. Below is a reflection from Outreach and Operations Officer Emily Keyes on her participation in a project for the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.


Over the past four and a half years I’ve been with Know History, I’ve been very fortunate to work on many different and interesting projects. One of the first projects I ever worked on was for the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. This was the first transcription work I had ever done, and I remember how much I enjoyed listening to people reflect on their lives and experiences. These interviews were conducted by the museum for a future traveling exhibit, and focused on the experiences of new immigrants: what motivated them to immigrate to Canada; what was this process like; what do they remember about their first day? Some interviewees had been in Canada for upwards of 30 years, while other arrived as recently as 2015.

In October of this year I got the chance to re-visit these interviews. The Canadian Museum of Immigration’s travelling exhibit, Canada: Day 1, is currently on at the Canadian Museum of History. While small in size, the exhibit tackles the large task of discussing immigration to Canada. It thoughtfully approaches the topics of Canada’s historic (and often discriminatory) immigration policies, and the challenges experienced by new immigrants. The exhibit features clips from oral history interviews, personal objects, and artwork to explore this subject.

Seeing the oral history clips I had transcribed so long ago in the exhibit was moving. It felt very much like a reunion. I was just on the onset of my career with Know History when I transcribed them, and I remember feeling so lucky to have the opportunity to play a small part in bringing these stories to a wider audience. I’m glad that years later, I still feel that same sense of pride.



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