This morning Kevin and I visited the McCord Museum. We chose it, of all the various cultural destiations in Montréal, because it has an exhibit devoted to the local indigenous people. There are, we were told, 11 different cultural groups native to the region we know as Quebec. They range from the Huron or Wendat people, who are related to other Iroquoian-speaking peoples from around the Great Lakes region, to the Inuit.
What you hope for from such exhibitions is to to learn fascinating things about these indigienous cultures. What you get, most of the time, is shameful tales about how badly they have been treated by Europeans. You get stories of massacres, of populations decimated by Western diseases, of broken treaties, of stolen children, of horrendous suicide rates among indigenous youth. Quebec is no exception.
I will note that the exhibition in the McCord was less despressing that the equivalent one in the museum in Hobart, Tasmania. There we were greeted with sorry photographs of the last known members of the native communties, dating from decades ago. There are over 1.6 million indigenous people living in Canada. Some 800 of them participated in the creation of the exhibition in the McCord. Some of them are on video venting their frustration at how badly they are treated, still.
The final room of the exhibition encourages visitors to make a meaningful connection to indigenous people, and to start on the journey of becoming an ally. The way that they talked about listening to people, and being respectful of difference, was very similar to the things we say in the Diversity Trust training about becoming an ally to trans people. There’s a lesson in that, I suspect.
As is the way of things with convention trips to other time zones, Kevin and I are now more or less used to Canadian time (in my case helped by their clocks going back on Sunday morning), but it is now time to start adjusting to our home time zones again.
We are settling in to Montréal in other ways too. We are eating very well, and have found the local farmers’ market so that we can sample the native cheeses. This one was rather good. We are a little hobbled due to the absence of the excellent Scott Edelman, but we shall do our best to channel his enthusiasm for fine dining and find some where spectacular to eat. We are in Montréal, that should’t be hard.
Another way in which we are getting acclimatised is that we are making like proper Canadians and going everywhere we can underground. This isn’t actually necessary. The weather has been fabulous — mostly in single digits but only very slightly negative overnght. But the underground routes are there for a reason and we are (re-)learning to use them. There’s no particular need for a coat.
I say “re-learning” because of course we learned all this in 2009 when we were here for Worldcon. This morning our route to breakfast took us past the convention center, and the fabulous Embassy Suites where Sissy Pantelis and I spent a happy week luxuriating in a superb hotel room. I want to stay in that hotel again.
However, all too soon it will be time to head home. We’ve done departure tests (though it looks like you don’t actually need one for the UK until after you have arrived, because the UK government is really keen on people spreading COVID as widely as possible). I shall have to find an excuse to come back.
I was back on the radio after two weeks off today, and I must admit that it is getting hard to find guests for the show. People are either run ragged or thoroughly depressed by the state of the world. Fortunately I had done those two interviews with Nalo for the One25 fundraiser, and I knew hardly anyone had watched them, so I was happy to run those on the show.
Before I did that, I spent some time reflecting on the current situation in the USA. My thanks to Lyda for sharing her experiences of Minneapolis after the first night of rioting. I figured that things would have got worse by the time the show aired. I don’t think I had quite expected 45 to declare war on his own people.
The show also has some new music from Labi Siffre and from Lianne La Havas. It also has two songs each from the fabulous Canadian women that Nalo introduced me to. Measha’s Brueggergosman’s version of “Both sides now” is a thing of beauty.
Here’s the final video in the travelogue series that Kevin and I have been doing for the One25 fundraiser. In this one Kevin climbs the Eiffel Tower. I miss meeting Diana Prince but do find that lesbian-owned bookstore. And I visit the Home of Comics.
My final post from Virtual Canada is a set of photos from inside the Royal British Colombia Museum. The light wasn’t great for my poor photography skills, but in one way it enhances the incredible art on display. As with the Inuit, I think that the native peoples of Vancouver Island speak for themselves through their art and craft.
Author Nalo Hopkinson was born in the Caribbean but spent much of her life in Toronto. Weather-wise it was a huge shock, but she still loves Canada’s largest city. Here we talk about ethnnic diversity and tourism opportunities. I make a geographical error of such magnitude that I had to leave it in so you could all laugh at it.
My final set of photos from Finland is from my favourite restaurant, Harald. It is a very silly place, but the food is excellent. Besides, they are making fun of the Swedes, which is a very Finnish thing to do.
It is time for another Cheryl & Kevin Go To video. This time we are in Finland. There’s quite a bit of history so we get nefarious Russians, nefarious Swedes, and inevitably the nefarious British. There are also Moomins, Lenin, and of course sauna.