“Trauma, Memory, and the Story of Canada”

This project will present a series of public art events and exhibitions to explore experiences of trauma as neglected and yet foundational parts of the story of Canada. This project emerges out of recent commemorative events and reconciliation processes related to residential schools, the Komagata Maru incident, Japanese internment, and the Chinese Head-Tax, all of which emphasize the need to explore how the past shapes our present. The project will focus on art exhibitions featuring works by artists across Canada who engage with traumas that are a part, directly or indirectly, of the Canadian experience, and a theatrical production that explores the intersections of the lives of Canadians coping with different kinds of trauma, distant and near. Associated programs and activities will involve the public through walking tours, scholarly talks, and online resources reflecting on trauma and its relationship to being Canadian. Trauma here can refer to colonization and migration, but is not necessarily something that happens in Canada, such as the partition of British India (which has its 70th anniversary in 2017), the expulsion of South Asians from Uganda in the 1970s, and the violence against Sikhs in India in the 1980s, which have profoundly shaped the lives of South Asian Canadians. This list signals that the project is founded from a locally embedded South Asian Canadian perspective, but it reaches out and through such experiences to connect with parallel processes of recognition, healing and recovery. What we will explore are not isolated events that pertain to singular, homogenous communities, but instead opportunities for shared understanding. In calling attention to them, we invite the public to embrace the complexity of the Canadian story, its transnational dimensions, and the recovery and healing at its core.