1784 (Un)Settling Antigonish Film

Speaking Truth to History

Synopsis

A year-long journey (October 2014-2015) of cross-cultural community-building and truth and reconciliation led to our creating and performing 1784: (Un)Settling Antigonish. Our community theatre production—rather, pilgrimage—performed by a cast of 30 spanning all ages, ethnicities, and levels of experience, has taught us our shared history. The documentary film has been produced to share with educators, community development workers, and all those excited about bridge-building through speaking truth to history.
 
With sponsorship from the Department of Seniors and many other local sponsors, we performed our theatrical pilgrimage to the first permanent European settlement of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, five times during the summer of 2015. Several hundred viewers witnessed this challenge to the Eurocentric historical record, as we opened spaces for re-storying public narratives, and gave new voice to long silent peoples who have suffered cultural genocide and other wounds of history.

The Documentary Film

This documentary film broadens our re-storying for global participation in the cause of truth and reconciliation.

Promo / Preview (7 Min)

People’s Theatre: A Co-Creation

In the tradition of popular theatre, our performers come from the same racial and geographical communities as the characters they portray—specifically, our Mi’kmaq, Acadian, Irish, Scottish, African, and American Nations. Many performers were on stage for the first time, and from the first rehearsal our diverse cast and creative team negotiated and fine-tuned Dorothy’s original script to achieve a ring of truth in the often uncomfortable dialogue between Settlers and First Nations, between Black and White Loyalists, and between Acadian and other European Settlers. The resulting script is a Nation-to-Nation co-creation.

The film highlights the tensions and triumphs of our truth and reconciliation process, and the everyday realities embedded in the words: “We are all treaty people.” It integrates video footage and still images from rehearsals and performances with interviews with the cast, creative team, and our “fellow pilgrims” from the audience.

Impact

We see our film as an imperative follow-up to our play. It would be all too easy to let the truth and reconciliation process lapse, congratulating ourselves on making a start on healing the wounds of history in our community. But the re-storying and healing has only just begun. Our film seeks to challenge viewers worldwide to engage actively through our Guide’s participatory activities. Because the truth and reconciliation that took place—both on and off the stage—will resonate with the colonization experience of inter-generational historical trauma throughout the world.

We believe the truth and reconciliation that took place, both on and off the stage, will resonate throughout the world with the colonial experience of inter-generational historical trauma.

In our particular Canadian context, our creative team, actors, and audiences — pilgrims all —were challenged to acknowledge that it was during the 18th and 19th centuries that the seeds were sown that gave rise to our Canadian residential schools, and the segregation of Europeans from African and First Nations communities, of Catholics from Protestants, and Anglophones from Francophones, in our churches, schools, and throughout our communities.

This film is our first response to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 Report’s 94 Calls to Action, addressing #62 of Education for Reconciliation: Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.

The DVD

TITLE:   1784: (Un)Settling Antigonish
Sub Title              Speaking Truth to History

A year-long journey (October 2014-2015) of cross-cultural community-building and truth and reconciliation led to our creating and performing 1784: (Un) Settling Antigonish. Our community theatre production—rather, pilgrimage—performed by a cast of 30 spanning all ages, ethnicities, and levels of experience, has taught us our shared history. The documentary film has been produced to share with educators, community development workers, and all those excited about bridge-building through speaking truth to history.  This documentary film broadens our re-storying for global participation in the cause of truth and reconciliation.

A healthy community knows its history

  • Length: 55 Minutes, NTSC, 2016
  • Directed by:  Denise Davies
  • Original production playwright: Dorothy Lander
  • Music: Thea Huard
  • Film Production:  Eckova Film and Media Production
  • Location: Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Canada

 More information

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