This past year has been a busy one but, between doing scholarly research and writing, I’ve also tried hard spend some of my time doing what might be considered public history. If you’re interested, here’s just a few of the projects that I worked on throughout 2015.
“Food Will Win the War” at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum
This past summer I was offered the opportunity to guest curate a museum exhibit based on my book, Food Will Win the War, at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa. Needless to say, I quickly jumped on the chance. I had a great time working with the staff at the museum – particularly William Knight – and even loaned many of the artifacts used in the exhibit from my own personal collection. The exhibit opened in September 2015 and should be on until the Spring/Summer of 2016. You can find out more here.
Meeting With Residential School Survivors in Northern Ontario
Over the past year I’ve given many talks, but the most important of these have been to groups of residential school survivors and their families throughout Northern Ontario. The first of these events was connected to my Hayes-Jenkinson Memorial Lecture at Algoma University in January. In addition to giving a talk to the Algoma community on residential school nutrition experiments, I was also invited to sit on a panel with survivors of the Shingwauk Institute that was co-sponsored by the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. These were both powerful events that I’ll never forget.
I have also been asked by the Grand Council of Treaty #3 to participate in workshops for survivors and their families throughout Treaty 3 territory. The first of these events was in Kenora in July and I’m going to be participating in additional events at Fort Frances in October and Sioux Lookout in November. I’m hugely grateful for these opportunities and have learned so much listening to survivors, many of whom were part of the nutrition experiments at the St. Mary’s and Cecilia Jeffrey residential schools.
“Victory Gardening” in the Canadian Encyclopedia
I was also recently invited to contribute a Canadian Encyclopedia entry on the topic of Victory Gardens based on the research I did for Food Will Win the War. I really enjoyed the challenge of translating my work for a popular audience and it’s an honour to be included in an encyclopedia that I’ve used many times in my own teaching.
The Forgotten Parts of Food Culture: Unpaid Labour and Drudgery
Earlier this year I was also invited by 49th Shelf – a website created by the Association of Canadian Publishers together with the Canadian Publishers’ Council to promote Canadian books – to submit a more personal essay on food history. I chose to write an essay about my grandmother, gender and work that I called, “The Forgotten Parts of Food Culture: Unpaid Labour and Drudgery.” In it, I tried to turn some of my critical arsenal on my own family history, exploring my grandmother’s life through two of her most widely used cookbooks. It was a difficult exercise but helped change the way I think of my grandmother and her life as a young woman.