Message from the Editorial Board

Stains, Stones and Stories: Unsettling representations of Confederation

The third year of Capstone Seminar is marked by several major milestones associated with Canadian national narratives. The Canadian Museum of Civilizations has started its pathway towards new endeavors under a new name : The Canadian Museum of History. The focus of public attention is shifting towards the 150th anniversary of Confederation, as such the year of 1867 was the main theme of our workshop with the Museum. We, a group of students in Canadian Studies from Carleton University, visited the Canada Hall, First Peoples’ Hall, and the Grand Hall. Several visits to the national institution as both guests and participants of ateliers inspired fresh ideas for individual research.

Our individual research endeavors led us to question the ways in which we talk about and teach history. Stains, stones and stories are three ways of portraying the past. Stains address the haunted themes from the past, stones stand for monuments and heritage sites and both lead us to national narratives and our own reflections. Studying these phenomena guides us to revisions and unsettling the past.

Major historic events that preceded Confederation are commemorated as a part of nation building. Meanwhile, our examinations of the past may reveal conflicts and  ambiguities of national myths. Aboriginal-settler relations, complicated by the diversity of societies, are one of these issues. Conflicts and diversities of settler societies – as reflected in the Confederation debates – were common to our past but not to our imaginings. Questioning these issues leads us to recognize the importance of commemoration. In this sense, museology and education are important for the reinforcement and questioning of the national narratives.

We hope you will enjoy the 3rd issue, entitled “Stains, Stones and Stories: Unsettling representations of Confederation”, and will provide you with some new views on myths and national narratives. This collection of articles links itself with a critical discussion of the commemoration of Canadian Confederation.

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