Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Red River to Ottawa ~ ongoing displacements

"The 132-year-old log and plaster home, where Louis Riel lay in state after his execution for treason in 1885, has fallen victim to the federal cuts to Parks Canada's budget."

I find it supremely annoying when media refer to Harper conservatives as representative of The West. It is a very specific version of the west that the conservatives are both drawn from and represent, in terms of class and culture, and the political empowerment, economic safeguarding, historical figures, culture heroes, and/or physical culture of The Actual West, are no safer in their hands than back in the day of John A.

The distance between the Red River and Ottawa has not collapsed from the time of Louis Riel's poetry or the time of Pauline Johnson's notes in The Shaganappi (1913), and the shipment of Manitoba historical artifacts (not only the contents of Riel House) down east is an insult to the region. In an era of return of artifacts to those to whom they hold meaning, this retraction of cultural possessions and jobs away from the people and province of Manitoba is another face of the imbalance that Thomas Mulcair so candidly observed.

It is not only the manufacturing industry that is languishing whilst the conservatives continue their lovefest with global oil.  With zooming unemployment in the arts and sciences and among the young, this government's interests are very specific. The kinds of jobs and the quality of life intended is precisely fitted to the needs of the oil patch and the pipelines, and resource extraction in general, and very disruptive to the breadth of Canada's population, going about our days (and generations).

The reformatting of Canadian history and current reality is an ongoing pledge, taken by Harper, Baird, Toews, and all of their classmates. It is fundamentally hostile to anything that might be reasonably described as "long-term" or "inclusive" Canadian interests, the formation of a super-settler state on the re-buried bones of our actual ancestors.

Some part of the funding earmarked for Defense Department overruns [bombing other people's homelands: my original read "the Canadian Museum for Human Rights" but Rhiannon Bennett  let me know the funding has been variously announced, clawed back, and minimally restored] should swiftly be diverted to protect the programming and support the ongoing access to actual local culture of Manitoba.

Parks Canada: Riel House
Manitoba Tourism Ambassador Monique Olivier
CBC: Riel House

 Manitoba history shipped to Ottawa
The future of Manitoba's past is going to be significantly impacted by federal budget cuts.

There are millions of artifacts currently housed in a McDermot Avenue building in Winnipeg's Exchange District.

Those pieces, along with dozens of people who catalogue and maintain them, will be moved to Ottawa within the next year, said Greg Thomas, a former Parks Canada manager.

That will affect sites such as Lower Fort Garry because the artifacts will be so far away, he said. Getting items sent back to Manitoba to set up displays could take several days.

"You would still have some of that expertise in Ottawa, [but] it's just that much more complicated and complex to deliver that story [from here]," he said.

Thomas hopes groups such as First Nations will still be able to have access to their items once they are moved to Ottawa, but says it will be much more cumbersome to study those items.

It was recently announced that the doors to the Riel House National Historic Site would be closed to the public for good, as of September.

The 132-year-old log and plaster home, where Louis Riel lay in state after his execution for treason in 1885, is one of the victims of the federal cuts.

Items in that house, which is furnished to an 1886 scene, will be among those being shipped off to Ottawa.

Related story in BC: http://joannearnott.blogspot.ca/2012/05/musqueam-village-site-c-snam.html

CBC: Radio, opening quote
Canadian Museum for Human Rights: more info + who's who
Parks Canada: Riel House
Manitoba Tourism Ambassador Monique Olivier (Riel House curator)
CBC: video, Riel House shuttered 
Manitoba Human rights museum: archeology report

also see:
Breakfast Television: Riel House (I, II, III)  
Louis Riel

1 comment:

Joanne Arnott said...

"The government restored more than half of the Riel House funding in the wake of public outrage. With that, the MMF stepped up to take over the operations, saying it should easily be able to fill in the remainder." CBC