Doing Active History: Introducing the 2019 Small Grants Recipients

In addition to our work online, is committed to supporting and developing engaged historical practice in the material world. As such, drawing on funds donated to our project, in December we launched a new funding program to support the development of Active History projects with small grants. Several wonderful projects were put forward for our consideration, making selection difficult. Today, we are pleased to announce our support for Matthew Hayes’s podcast project South Mountain and Arpita Bajpeyi and Sinead Cox’s Staging our Histories.

South Mountain

South Mountain is a mini-series podcast about the Goler Clan, a poor three-generation family that lived together on a compound with no running water or electricity in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. In 1984, one of the Goler daughters admitted to her teacher that she had been the victim of sexual abuse by her family members. This admission sparked an investigation that revealed ongoing abuse and deplorable living conditions in an area of Nova Scotia just a short drive from the affluent university town of Wolfville. The case became a national scandal that resulted in prison sentences for nearly all of the adult Golers, and adoptions for all of the children. But, just as soon as it exploded, the case seemingly died away, and it is now difficult to find much information about it at all.

Through interviews with Nova Scotians, the podcast will tell the history of the case itself – and the mystery of its press and ongoing life inside and outside the province – as well as explore regionalism and class in Canada, the latter being at the root of the story. Also wrapped up in this story is the idea of Come From Aways – specifically for Hayes in telling this story as an outsider, from Ontario (albeit one who lived in Nova Scotia for a time). The podcast will unravel the story bit by bit, through the voices of Nova Scotians, and explore its connections with these broader themes. If you are familiar with the story and would be interested in speaking with Hayes for the podcast, please get in touch with him through email – freefoodfilms [at] gmail [dot] com – or Twitter @freefoodfilms.

Matthew Hayes

Matthew Hayes is in the final year of the Canadian Studies PhD program at Trent University, for which he has written a history of Canada’s UFO investigation. He is also an independent filmmaker, having completed over a dozen films, including Pushbacka feature length documentary about homelessness and poverty.

Staging Our Histories

Staging Our Histories puts diverse histories and voices in conversation with each other for a live audience. Our next event, New Histories/Old Roots, features diverse histories of ‘home’ relevant to rural Southwestern Ontario today, selected from responses to an open call. The four live performances and short films selected will be presented, accompanied by talkback sessions, on March 23rd at the Livery Theatre in Goderich, ON (click here for tickets). This edition of Staging Our Histories is curated with local audiences, including growing newcomer and Syrian refugee communities and is accessible to Huron County audiences who may not have access to histories that reflect their own experiences, as well as audiences unfamiliar with gaps in local and national narratives. New Histories/Old Roots offers a transformative experience for both the audiences and artists involved by opening up and sustaining dialogue with multiple narratives that illustrate how the home we share is enriched by our diverse histories.

Co-directors of Staging our Stories Arpita Bajpeyi and Sinead Cox with co-founder Marie-Anne Gagnon.

Staging Our Histories is coordinated by Arpita Bajpeyi and Sinead Cox. Arpita is a public historian (Carleton University, 2014) and kathak dancer whose work lies at the intersection of performance and the past. Her storytelling and scholarship endeavours to bring these two practices together by finding histories in moving bodies and dance repertoires. She is currently based in Ottawa, ON. Sinead Cox is Curator of Engagement & Dialogue at the Huron County Museum and Historic Gaol, and a volunteer with Goderich’s Welcome Project: Syria. Sinead is passionate about amplifying lesser heard stories from rural southwestern Ontario, including those that connect to newcomer communities. She has a Master’s Degree in Public History from Carleton University, Ottawa, and an Honours B.A. from the University of Western Ontario, with one year spent abroad at the University of Leeds, U.K. Sinead lives in Goderich, Ontario. is a volunteer run project that operates through your support of time and resources. We are able to support these projects through the generous financial support of our donors. Click here for more information about how you can support this work. 

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