Saturday 7 June 2014

Canada Tales 1

I have always known a few things about Canada but you begin to find out so much more when you are preparing to visit. I am attending and presenting at a Cancer Primary Care Conference in Winnipeg from 10th-18th June this year.

Dad in Winnipeg c1942
On a very personal level I am so looking forward to the visit because my late father was stationed in Winnipeg during World War II as part of his RAF training. He was there to gain his wings as a Flight Lieutenant and practice navigation across the great lakes.

Further Canadian links are strengthened through my aunt, who like many other Scots emigrated for a better life and lived in Kingston, Ontario for over 40 years.

My parents made a number of trips but this will be my first visit. In fact my first excursion over the pond. I can hardly wait yet as I make my preparations I cannot help but think that I am extremely fortunate to be still alive, almost twenty years, after my treatment for cancer and to be lucky enough to be invited on this journey.

Winnipeg, is in the state of Manitoba and sits on the South Western edge of Hudson Bay. It gets cold, very cold in winter. There is even a street that is said to be the windiest corner in the country. It has a population of over 600,000 roughly the same size as Nottingham City and its urban areas (700,000). 

Our British history books tend to begin with the tales of the Hudson Bay Company   and as a Scot I am drawn to tale of the Selkirk Settlers yet Manitoba is an area with a much longer history with significant challenges that still affect its population in the 21st Century. I am keen to visit the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg to learn more about the history and see many of the objects of its aboriginal people.

The term that is used in Canada to describe the indigenous peoples is The First Nations. This refers to the original people who are neither Inuit (those from the Arctic regions) nor Metis (those from a mixed descent with Europeans). Within the First Nations there are many distinct ethnicities so I found the Canada’s First Peoples website interesting. The Government provides further background information.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs website has an interesting report on the regions health issues for the First Nations.

Reading this takes me back to my days teaching in the drama workshop in Nottinghamshire. The only resources we had were The Prince and the Salmon People by Clair Murphy and Barry Lopez’s story Crow and Weasel to explore the tales of indigenous people in an exploratory and respectful creative manner. Crow and Weasel has the wonderful line that sometimes we 'need stories more than food to stay alive’. In my own clumsy way I still try to tell stories and use them to make meaning.

In the next week I shall try to unravel some more tales.

In the meantime I shall be tweeting with #capriresearch (Ca-Pri as in Cancer Primary care not Capri as in Mediteranean) and #engagepatientsMB

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