<h2 style="text-align:center;">The Scenario</h2>
In <em>Putting a Light on Invisible Labour</em>, you are a historian working for the Canadian Historical Association to do a profile on Ottawa's Parliament buildings. You are meant to research the architects responsible for its original construction, design choices, and include short biographies of the politicians and architects involved just in time for a special publication for Canada Day 2020. It's meant to highlight the importance of the buildings and their preservation (which is currently a great area of focus with the amount of construction taking place). Your supervisor also emphasized that the tone of the project should be "in keeping with the spirit of celebration and Confederation."
You thought this would be a straightforward project - focusing on the architects, building techniques, and various government workers in the Public Works Department. ''However,'' the more research you conduct, the more you see that there's something missing from your area of focus.
Your employers aren't interested in anything beyond the scope of the outlined project, and you are left considering exactly how you want to approach it: ''Whether you go ahead with what your employers are asking or take a different direction that's outside both your classic history training and comfort zone.''
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyU-7j2mRWg" target="_blank">Are you ready to begin?</a>
[[Yes ->About: Game Mechanics]]
[[See more information ->about the game]].
<h3 style="text-align:center;">Game Mechanics</h3>
The game takes place through the media of [[ergodic literature]] which allows players to select and explore strands of branching ideas and narratives.
You are encouraged follow the choices which you find the most compelling on your first play-through, and then to subsequently come back and explore different choices and outcomes.
The multitude of decisions you make during the story will affect not only your route through the story, but also the final outcome. The ending passage of your narrative is generated from the various choices you make and the story will bury itself, rendering the story set after you make a choice, so choose carefully!
[[Next->About the Creators]]
<h3 style="text-align:center;">Whomp Whomp</h3>
Well, goshdarnit! I guess this is the end of the line, then.
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSz16ngdsG0" target="_blank">I will remember you.</a>
(No, not really. This game doesn't work that way.) <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_XgQhMPeEQ" target="_blank">See you in a while, crocodile.</a>
//Just kidding!// [[Beam me up, Scotty!->Start]]<h3 style="text-align:center;">Disclaimer</h3>
This game was created as a final project for Carleton University's HIST5700F and is based off a presentation given by Jenna Emslie for HIST5702F.
//Putting a Light on Invisible Labout// is a work of fiction and is not representative of any actual or realistic projects taking place, interpretations or ideas. It is based on Emslie's own experiences in the progress of researching the initial project.
The idea is that the story provides a platform for the player to explore ideas about public history in its many forms rather than to provide factual information about any given example. The system and basis of the story, however, are based on the wider themes and debates in the public history discipline.
All content included in the game is suitable for all audiences.
<h3 style="text-align:center;">The More You Know</h3>
Ergodic Literature is a term originally coined by E. J. Aarseth to define literature in which the reader, or player, is required to expend non-trivial effort through active participation in order to traverse the text.
[[Cool! Take me back->About: Game Mechanics]]. <h3 style="text-align:center;">Behind the Game</h3>
//Putting a Light on Invisible Labour// is a game and project created by Jenna Emslie for Carlton University's Public History graduate program.
[[Next->Getting Started]]"You have three days to finish the research," your supervisor Elena Ramirez says to you. "Then I want a complete rundown of what you find and how you want to present your findings for the Canada 2020 celebration. Remember, the Canadian Historical Society wants this to focus on the architects and the historical impact of the Parliament buildings and design in addition to the profile on the Public Works department. Don't get sidetracked."
You're excited, this is your first real solo project after graduate school and you're full of nervous energy and excitement. Elena has just finished telling you about her expectations for the project and you don't want to let her down.
//Researching the Parliament buildings, huh? Should be easy and interesting enough,// you think to yourself.
"I won't let you down!" you say, eager to get started.
Elena waves in farewell, leaving you in you alone in your small office. Nodding to yourself, [[you write down a rough list->Task List]] of where you think you should begin. Looking at the list in your hand, you decide to work your way down in order to use your time efficiently.
<h3 style="text-align:center;">To Do</h3>
<li>Consult the archive</li><ul>
<li>Images for the display</li>
<li>Write-ups for the architects</li>
<li>Public Works Department: Sessional papers</li></ul>
<li>Going to the site</li><ul>
<li>Determining display space</li>
<li>Bring report to the CHA</li></ul>
You're heading [[off to the archive->Archive]] to gather what will make up the bulk of your report. <h1 style="text-align:center;">Shining a Light on Invisible Labour</h1>
<h3 style="text-align:center;">a game by Jenna Emslie</h3>
<p style="text-align:center;">All links (seen in underlined purple text) open to external YouTube videos and sites. They are not malicious in nature and are for humorous effect or citation purposes.</p>
<sub>Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada</sub>You've arrived at Library and Archives Canada! Going through the security checkpoint, putting your belongings in either the crinkly white bag provided or into one of the small lockers, you ascend in the elevator to the main archives floor, ready to begin. The floor is quiet, security guards stand on either side of the glass walls, and the archivists are friendly. You've been here many times before and are familiar with the security and check-in procedures - they're almost second-nature to you now after maany visits during your studies and career.
As you make yourself at home and situated your supplies (a notebook, two mechanical pencils, and your laptop) at one of the far wooden desks, you look around the room. It's filled with high shelves along the walls, with smaller filing cabinets and shelves fill the middle. It's quiet in the space, with three others studiously examining different stacks of documents in front of them and making careful notes, and the two archivists sitting behind their desk - which overlooks the entire area from their position in the middle of the room - smile at you every time you look up, letting you know that they are there to assist you if needed.
[[Next->Archive 2]]Putting aside the other records for now, you start to look for photographs to go with this new project, to see if you can find a new perspective that you hadn't previously considered. Clicking through the online database, alternating keywords and scrolling through the pages, you find one that makes you pause.
Your public history class almost seems to haunt you here, and more recollections of conversations had bring to mind a quote by James Opp: "Photographs mediate our memories of the past while simultaneously distancing us from the pictured place."<sup>1</sup>
<sub>James Opp. "Placing the Photograph: Digital Composite Images and the Performance of Place." //Introductory Guide to Public History,// David Dean, eds (2018): 333.</sub>
<sub>Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada</sub>It's when you start looking for photographs for your write-ups that you come across a picture of a group of workers. They're in a large building constructing arches for the new Peace Tower. Something about it speaks to you, but you don't have a lot of time... What do you do?
[[Well... looking for a minute can't hurt, right?->Images 2]]
[[No, there isn't time for emotion in this assignment. On to the next task - that pizza is calling your name!->Visiting Parliament 1]] You're at home, cozied up in your favourite chair, your beloved pet at your feet, and you're ready to get to work. You only have two days to get something for your supervisor will approve to use, and you have your work cut out for you.
Pulling up the <a href="http://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_08052_1_5/523?r=0&s=1" target="_blank">Parliamentary Sessional Papers</a>, you see that under the sections where they discuss the construction of Parliament, they list in great detail how much money was spent where and to whom, the process of communicating with contractors and architects, and various other details from the Public Works department.
<img src="public works reports.JPG">
But what about the people who put in the work, who risked life and limb for low pay in order to create enduring icons for an entire country who seem to be forgotten? You don't see any mention of them here.
[[Keep Looking to see what you can find.->Sessional Papers 2]]After a long night of eating pizza and doing a bit of extra research online, you're ready to get started on phase three of your project: it's time for a photo op! You've arrived at Parliament, your phone's freshly charged and ready to go, you're wearing proper outerwear, and you're eager to see the project finished.
You see various groups milling about on the grounds of Parliament and the streets are busy with folks heading to the Rideau Centre. You pay them no mind, looking instead to get a good angle on the Parliament buildings. But, heck! You've totally forgotten until just now that many of the Parliament buildings are under construction.
[[Next.->Visiting Parliament 2]]
<sub>Photo Credit: Jenna Emslie</sub>"A real eyesore, isn't it?" someone asks beside you after they notice your obvious distress. You sigh in agreement.
"Yeah," you reply, putting your phone back in your pocket. "I guess that's what we have Google for isn't it?" you joke.
//So much for a photo op. Guess I'll just have to look online and at the Archive's site again to find something. None of this will work - no one wants to look at that.//
Shaking your head, trying to not let your disappointment get the better of you, you head home to put the final touches on your project and prepare your report for the CHA.
[[Let's get started - you're eager to show your supervisor you've accomplished your task successfully.->Bringing the Report to CHA]].
<sub>Photo Credit: Jenna Emslie</sub>"And there we have it - a complete profile for Parliament," you say, grinning.
Elena returns the expression. In fact, she looks absolutely pleased with everything you accomplished. You completed every task you set out for yourself, and you're feeling quite pleased.
"This is great," she says, flipping through your report, still smiling to herself. "It'll go perfectly with the display we have planned for John A. Macdonald."
You feel another swell of pride. //Your// hardwork and research will be used to promote something so important to Canada's history!
Something nags on your mind. A missed opportunity to dig deeper. Yes, your supervisor is happy, and you should be, too. And yet... a part of you feels like you've let something slip through your fingers. Would you have chosen differently if you could go back to the beginning?
It's too late for that, isn't it?
[[Not in fantasy, it ain't. Beam me up, Scotty!->One]]
[[Well. Live and learn I guess. Can't change it now.->Sources]]<h2 style="text-align:center;">Influences Behind the Game: Bibliography</h2>
Dudley, Sandra H. "The Power of Things: Agency and Potentiality in the Work of Historical Artefacts." //A Companion to Public History,// Newark: John Wiley & Sons (2018):187-199.
Ibraeva, Gulnara. "An Unfinished Story: Nation Builidng in Kyrgystan." David Dean, ed. //A Companion to Public History,// Newark: John Wiley & Sons (2018): 201-214.
Massey, Doreen. "Places and Their Pasts." //History Workshop Journal//, no. 39 (1995): 182-192.
Milloy, John. "Doing Public History in Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commision." Dean, David M., ed. //A Companion to Public History,// Newark: John Wiley & Sons (2018)::10-19.
Opp, James. "Placing the Photograph: Digital Composite Images and the Performance of Place." //A Companion to Public History,// Newark: John Wiley & Sons (2018): 332-348.
Steedman, Carolyn. “Archive Fever, Ghostly Stories.” Dean, David M., ed. //A Companion to Public History,// Newark: John Wiley & Sons (2018): 97-110.
Wojdon, Joana. "Between Public History and History Education." //A Companion to Public History,// Neward: John Wiley & Sons (2018): 455-464.
[[Next.->Thank You]]The archive is representative of "the state’s involvement in the making and management of archives: there is an old historical story about the institution of archives as an embodiment of state power and as measure of state involvement in the lives of its citizens and subjects."
It is as a place of origins, where one can find historical evidence. This was an integral portion of your education as a historian. Your claims could not be substantiated if they did not have corroborating evidence. What was in the archive spoke for itself and the historian was merely a scribe and interpreter.
But now that old class discussion is making you question that.
"Derrida [speaks of] the //arkhe//, the origin or source of things. In his exgesis, it is a kind of place where things (all things or entities, including power), begin. Power is bound up with, //is,// the authority of the idea that things did once begin; that there are, in fact, starting points."
[[Next->Authority in the Archive 2]].
<sub>Carolyn Steedman. "Archive Fever, Ghostly Stories." //Introductory Guide to Public History,// David Dean, eds (2018): 98.</sub>The documents and pictures you need are all under the RG11 collection and you're eager to begin, but something nags on your mind. You're reminded of something your public history class - which you took as an elective - went over in a lecture. It sticks out in your memory as a discussion centred around Foucault, national identities, authority and archives.
You shake your head. The CHA has a specific task in mind that needs to be completed, you really shouldn't be dawdling. And yet the memory persists. Where should you start?
[[Work to recall what your professor said->Authority in the Archive]].
[[Continue with your task->Head in the Sand]].You close your eyes for a moment, trying to centre your mind back on your class discussion all those years ago, a thought comes to mind and solidifies as you suddenly become conscious of all the stares directed your way from not just the archivists, but also the other researchers surrounding you.
//Oh jeez, I hope they don't think I was about to have a nap,// you think, hastily picking up your pencil and looking at your notes. That's when your thoughts click in place.
The archive, although a invaluable resource for a scholar's research and a lasting repository for keeping history alive (or, so you've been taught), is also a place of [[incredible scrutiny->Steedman 1]]. You put your nose to the grindstone - taking out all the boxes you need and digging into its contents immediately. Time loses all meaning for you (and you made sure to have the entire day free to accomodate this exact inevitability), and you find yourself getting completely absorbed. Each photograph holds your attention, each notation is made with careful strokes, and you are more than happy to have long, tangental conversations with the archivists about the new collections that are being archived and the sad state of affairs when it comes to preservation and allocating funding for digitization. Before you know it, you're getting a tap on your shoulder.
"We're closing in an hour - just wanted to let you know," the archivist from before says to you.
//Oh man, how long have I been going at this?//
Looking at your watch, you see that you've been there for over five hours! You didn't take an hour for lunch, and it's only now that you realize how dry your mouth is, how much your stomach is growling. Your forehead's hot - almost as if you were coming down with a fever.
The sensations strike another memory for you, similar to the one hovering around your thoughts earlier in the day. But you only have two hours left before you have to leave and come back another day. What should you do?
[[Finally take the time to ruminate on that old lecture->Steedman 1]].
[[Forge on, you're on a mission after all->Head in the Sand 2]].
You're left with the burning question: Who has the right to speak for the dead? Do //you// have any authority?
[[This is too much for your brain right now - you need to focus on your project->Head in the Sand 2]].
[[You want to follow this line of thought, and your poject objective becomes more distant in your mind->Authority in the Archive 3]].The fevered feeling increases, but you're invested. You'll get this thing done if it's the last thing you do! (And you console yourself with the idea that you can get a //very// large pizza once this is all over.) You pay attention to the dates, the who's and where's, while not considering much else in your haste. The archive hasn't let you down before, and you don't think it's about to now.
You go through box after box, taking notes at lightning speed - you don't want to have to come back if you don't have to - and start preparing to do the write-ups on the politicians and architects that your supervisor recommended.
[[What are you waiting for? Let's get started!->Write-ups]]Your brain is on fire for an entirely new reason other than your project. Taking a figurative step back and keeping the ideas of authority and beginnings in your mind, you begin to consider what's in front of you.
In front of you lies several stacks of documents and photographs. One of them is dedicated to Sir John A Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada and one of the people who ordered Parliament's construction. As you go through the documents, you find a quote that furthers your line of questioning:
"If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it; we shall sink into insignificance and adversity if we suffer it to be broken.’ God and nature made the two Canadas one — let no fractious men be allowed to put them asunder." – <a href="https://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/john-a-macdonald-the-indispendable-politician-mli-paper-by-alastair-gillespie/" target="_blank">Sir John A Macdonald.</a>
[[Next->Authority in the Archive 4]].Parliament is the centre of Canada - it is where the government is housed, the prime minister does his work, and is an ever-present symbol of Canada to the entire world. It is a point of great visibility and a national historic site and place of authority and power. There is a focused narrative surrounding the buildings that goes beyond their physical presence.
You're reminded, again, of something you discussed with your classmates about the nature of national identity and its ties to authority.
"'[T]he past' is seen in some sense to embody the real character of the place. It is from this kind of thinking that we find ourselves, probably all the while knowing that the term evokes a million unfortunate implications, talking of other places as 'unspoilt' (by which we usually mean: it is as we have imagined it to have been in some distant past). These kinds of (implicitly or explicitly) internalist and essentialist constructions of the character of places, then, not only fail to recognise the long history of interconnectedness with elsewhere (the history of the global construction of the local), they also presuppose a particular relationship between the assumed identity of a place and its history."
[[Next->Authority in the Archive 5]].
<sub>Doreen Massey. "Places and Their Pasts." //History Workshop Journal//, no. 39 (1995): 183.</sub>More thoughts pour in about how to circumvent the traps searching for 'authenticity of place' and resisting the urge to dwell on Parliament and Canada's 'beginning'. You recall a classmate pointing out that a possible response to that sort of national or interpretive gatekeeping when it comes to place is knowing that sort of "affective attitude" is inevitably imbued with nostalgia, and that in turn acts as a hindrance to progressive politics.<sup>1</sup>
Keeping the [[quote->Massey]] in mind, you start to think of what contests the main narratives of what Parliament is - what it means and the nature of your project assignment. You are, in essence, tasked with reinforcing tradition, of backing an existing narrative that, by its very nature, excludes other stories surrounding Parliament, Ottawa, and, by extension, Canada. If understanding of place is a nexus of social relationships, then what relationships does Parliament have? If something is not acknowledged or included in //the// site of Canadian nationhood, then who is working to keep these histories and what's at risk of being forgotten?
With a shock, you realize that this is straying //very// far from the project your supervisor assigned you. Your reflections have taken a good amount of time, and you won't be able to come back to the archive in time to do the other tasks and finish on time. What should you do?
[[This is too important. It might not be what your supervisor asked for, but you're confident that you can make an altered, more poignant project.->Images]]
[[No, this is too far-reaching. Put the reflections in the back of your mind and continue with your assigned tasks to create the results your supervisor asked for.->Head in the Sand 2]]
<sub>1. Doreen Massey. "Places and Their Pasts." //History Workshop Journal//, no. 39 (1995): 184.</sub>After you've gone through your second cup of coffee and several volumes of the sessional papers, you've learned a plethora of new information about the early governmental workings of Parliament, but almost next to nothing on the workers.
What you're beginning to discover is that a large portion of Parliament's material history was hidden in forgotten drawers in Library and Archives Canada, and such a necessary form of labour seems to be only thought of in terms of its completion and its uses to the powerful rather than as an accomplishment of incredible skill on the part of the worker.
<img src="public works sessional papers.JPG">
Everything you read seems to confirm this, but you need more. Although you won't be able to go into the majority of the Parliament buildings because they are under construction, you need to visit the actual sites. You want to compare the blueprints you sifted through to what's there now and see what's changed, and to see if there's any history that you can find in the physical structures that you haven't been able to already.
[[Wind down and get a good night's rest. You're visit Parliament tomorrow!->Visiting parliament alt]]The Library and Archives Canada website doesn't have the information or other pictures to fill the gaps you're sensing. Getting up and walking to the archivists' desk, you inquire about looking through the microfilm and microfiche that's associated with the RG11 collection. They direct you to the floor above that's similarly quiet as the one below, and you make your way to the microfiche room.
After finding a station to use for when you find the microfiche, you begin to search through the collections. However, the finding aids that you used downstairs don't correspond with anything here. There are //thousands// to sift through. Feeling overwhelmed, you talk to the person at the desk and ask for help. You explain the problem to them, and they seem simiarly confused that they cannot find the collection.
It takes half an hour, assistance from three other staff members, and crossreferencing the finding aids with an older spreadsheet to figure out exactly where the collection of microfiche is stored. But, huzzah! You're dedication has paid off - you find the microfiche collection. All 700 individual slides with no way to sort which one is what. You'll have to go through them to find something you're not even sure will be there.
[[Ah, the joys of academia. Bring it on!->Microfiche 1]]The faces of the workers leave an impression on you. In all of the records you've looked at, there has been //no// mention of the people who built Parliament. You see many for the architects - the men whom Elena said that you had to profile - but none for those who put in the physical labour. With the archive closing in a couple of hours, you find yourself at another crossroads, one that will decide the outcome of your entire project.
There's something buried in the history of the Parliament buildings, and you feel compelled to uncover it. [[Continue to investigate->Images 3]].
As much as it pains you... your supervisor will not be pleased that you aren't staying on task and that you haven't talked with her beforehand. [[You put this work aside and hurry to finish collecting the information you need.->Head in the Sand 2]]You're refreshed and ready to finish your research, and you've picked a great day to do it. It's a brisk early afternoon, there are a few groups wandering the grounds and a steady stream of people walk up and down the street. You start to wander, letting your eyes linger on the different lamp posts, mentally comparing them to the plans you looked at yesterday, statues and plaques, and the construction frames surrounding the different buildings.
"Quite the eyesore, aren't they?" a stranger asks. You're pulled out of your thoughts and stare at them.
"What do you mean?"
"All that stuff," they say, gesturing to the construction equipment and coverings over the buildings. "Can't believe that's supposed to take //years."//
"Yeah... I guess so," you say, wishing them farewell and continuing onward. Their words stick in your head, but you [[keep going.->Visiting Parliament alt 2]]
<sub>Photo Credit: Jenna Emslie</sub>You wander for about an hour, your mind constantly turning over what you're seeing, what you found out yesterday, and what it all means. You see that there are no obvious signifiers or places of acknowledgement of where the land came from, or how the Canadian government ‘procured’ it from First Nation peoples. While there are many statues commemorating the men behind making Canada “great," there are no commemorative markers for the workers and peoples whose backs government leaders built their material legacy.
In a building that is so clearly defined by governmental procedures, symbols, and signifiers of national importance, it is telling of what is valued, upheld, and celebrated — and it isn’t the marginalized or the working class. Even though the Parliament buildings are a site of great visibility, they are also a place of erasure.
What does this mean, then? How can the Parliament we see and know miss out on so much? [[What does that say about Canada and its history?->Visiting Parliament alt 3]]
<sub>Photo Credit: Jenna Emslie</sub>Photographs do not encompass the entirety of a story, and they are representations of a historical temporality, but there's something about looking at the faces of the crew that rings to a missing component to your project. You're trying to determine how much weight this single photograph should have.
When comparing the photograph and the absence of information to Parliament and everything you know it represents, you notice that there tends to be a habit amongst the wider public of looking at buildings, especially ones designated as having greater historical significance and nationalistic meaning, as an entire whole — a space that was nothing and then suddenly became something once a designated object of importance was constructed.
What happened in between? The work and intricacies and sweat and labour that went into what would otherwise be an apparition seems to be largely smoothed over, becoming an anecdote that effaces the very real work of the hundreds of individuals who made it real.
[[Next.->Microfiche ]] Pulling out stack after stack, taking care not to mix them up or spill them all over the floor, you start to examine the original building plans for the Parliament buildings.
You find out that many of the originals were no longer in existence, you only have what's in front of you.
[[What else can you discover?->Microfiche 2]]
<sub>Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada</sub>The incredible detail, precision, and skill that went into rendering the blueprints is evident: the white marks from where the architect erased and redrew lines, never able to completely get rid of the previous marks, the signatures in the corners, small imperfections in the hand drawn lettering, and the precise tracings over top the free-hand designs are clear and give each blueprint a life of its own.
Who drew the blueprints? There's nothing attributing the work to any sole individual. Instead, it's put under the banner of the firms, and any history of who the artists is another area of invisible labour. The ability to take a drawing — even an incredibly precise one—and transform it into a clear plan and vision to build a physical recreation of it to what exists today, appears to be under-represented and under-valued.
These small acts of labour are lost along with the ‘bigger’ manual ones, and you're left feeling an incredible loss when trying to glean individual stories from the structures.
<sub>Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada</sub>You don't know how there hasn't been a project on this before, and you think it's about time these stories and absences are brought to light. What better time than now with the current construction taking place? You're sure you can convince your supervisor. But where should you start on this new objective - how do you fill in the gaps?
//Surely there //must// be something about these people - a written record of some kind,// you think to yourself.
There isn't anything else you can get from the archive. You head home, determined to look through the Parliamentary sessional papers. [[So grab that coffee and hunker down, your work isn't done yet!->Sessional Papers]]In examining the current construction of the Parliament buildings, the lingering question of how we view labour, what should be replaced and what should not be, and what needs to be ‘destroyed’ and, alternatively, preserved remain unanswered. You want to start a dialogue in order to bring to light and discuss what is being neglected.
When records of labour history are unrecorded, forgotten (purposely or not), and unmarked, how can we be sure of what we are really keeping and leaving behind? What happens to the history of the new work being done and the new acts of labour that are still widely undiscussed? Ambiguity and loss are inherent even when attempting to ‘preserve’ the past, but the glaring omissions in the Parliamentary records speak to a system-wide disregard for the peoples who made its existence possible.
You've come to realize that the archives do not hold the entirety of knowledge that one needs in order to understand history in its totality. [[How can it fill the gaps when it is one of the main voids?->Milloy]]"You see, the labour put into the buildings has become invisible, and I really don't think much has changed. Parliament's under construction again, and our attitudes don't seem to have changed very much. It seems to be framed in the sessional papers of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 and 1916 as... something of an inconvenience, something that must be hurried along so that the final product can be enjoyed and remembered. So, I think should focus on that instead - on all the buried aspects that have been ignored until now. Who the land //actually// belongs to, who built Parliament - all the gapes and holes that the archives can't fill."
Sweat drips down your back. You've just finished giving a ten minute presentation to Elena. You saw her expression change often, from disconcerted to surprised to contemplative. You hope that what you said is sinking in, that you can continue down this avenue of investigation instead.
After a long pause, she says, "This doesn't fit with what we asked."
You feel deflated, but you keep trying. "I - I know it doesn't, but maybe it's better this way? Why do something that's already been done, why not challenge what we've been told and show something //new// about Canada?"
From the tilt of Elena's head, you know you've got a fight ahead of you still. "Well, that's great and all. But [[where do you go from here?]]"From your public history class, you remember an important assertion from one of your assigned readings:
<p style="text-align:center;">“[H]istory is always a problematic and incomplete reconstruction of what no longer exists. Memory is a timeless phenomenon, experienced by connection with the eternal present. But history is a representation of the past. Because of its sensate and magical nature, memory coexists only with those details that suit it.”<sup>1</sup></p>
Perhaps what Canada does and doesn't want to remember is deeply engrained, that it is connected to other problems that are being contended - the calls for truth and reconciliation, class inequality and workers' rights, acknowledging exploitation and systemic erasure. Even in such a place that has as great visibility of Parliament, there are noticeable silences. Normalizing silence can be seen as a symptom of "separation from the world of the past, a certain degree of suppression of habits formed in a previous stage of development."<sup>2</sup>
Silence and invisibility, you conclude, is something that is engrained in Canada's national identity - and clear separation from what the past is and what they want it to be.
You think you have enough to finish the project. [[You're ready to prepare everything to present to your supervisor.->Conclusions 2]]
<sub>1. Gulnara Ibraeva. "An Unfinished Story: Nation Builidng in Kyrgystan." //A Companion to Public History// (2018): 212.</sub>
<sub>2. Ibid, 205.</sub><p style="text-align:center;">"[T]he larger relevant archive is not a site of quiet scholarly activity alone but one of contestation. Political dynamics often determine what is possible and how results will be achieved, indeed, even what those results might be."<sup>1</sup></p>
<sub>1. John Milloy. "Doing Public History in Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commision." //Introductory Guide to Public History,// David Dean, eds (2018):13.</sub>Gathering up your research papers, the poster you made to illustrate your findings, and taking a deep breath, you're ready to take your ideas to your supervisor, Elena. You're sure that she will see things the way that you do now and realize that there are absences you can work to acknowledge and bring to light.
[[Bring your report to the CHA.->Bringing Report to the CHA Alt 2]] <p style=text-align:center;">Thanks For Playing!</p>
Hopefully you learned something about the small, but noticeable, differences that can exist when approaching a historical project without employing the critical gaze that the Public History discipline can give you. What is public history, you say? Hopefully you gleaned an idea of it by playing, but many definitions exist. One that Jenna Emslie employs is that Public History is
<p style="text-align:centre;">"whatever it needs to be within the context of interacting, sharing, and teaching history in conjunction with the audience in whichever form they take. It is letting go of control, authority, and willing to be vulnerable when negotiating the "truth" of the past and present."</p>
Don't let this be the end of your public history journey - if this game raised questions, pursue them! Or, even better, do some reading up on the discipline and question the narratives we are given about any particular subject.
Here's Baby Yoda to send you off!
<sub>Please don't sue me, Disney. I'm poor.</sub>How do you reconcile with what you now know and what the CHA and, likely, the government want the rest of Canada to know? Where do you go from here? Elena's question is incredibly relevant, and you don't pretend to have all the answers. That's what you're looking for - permission to explore what //can// be done.
You could focus on uncovering individual stories - memory mapping, tracking family histories, source out information from Ottawa locals. There are many paths that could lead to fruitful findings that will tell the story of Parliament's construction and exactly what its impact has been on the peoples whose land it sits on and on those whose hands helped build it. Your mind is alive with possibilities, and all you can do is work to be able to try.