By Sarah Taguiam
Canadian Museum of Immigration CEO Marie Chapman spoke at CEMA’s Speaker Series last Thursday (May 3, 2012) about the museum as an important landmark of the country’s rich immigrant history .
Located at Halifax’s Pier 21, Canada’s last surviving port where one million immigrants arrived between 1928 and 1971, the museum hosts galleries and special exhibits illustrating the stories of immigrant families who started a new life in Canada. “Our mission is not one of advocacy but of reflection and gathering,” Chapman said. “It’s our responsibility to reflect back to people who are here to share their experiences.” A mission, she added, that members of the ethnic media have helped them fulfill for decades.
“Because of a lot of the work you’ve done in telling stories about immigration through different media outlets and your personal lives … it became a very easy message to spread,” she said. Chapman said that having access to ethnic media is a “key contributor to the feeling of belonging and self-esteem.” “It’s not only about receiving information, it’s the perspective of home and how here becomes home…. It’s giving immigrants the bridge to understand that they’re still part of something through the eyes of people who also immigrated here and are now part of the media.” Today, the museum is recognized as Canada’s sixth national museum and is visited by 60,000 to 80,000 people a year. It continues to expand its exhibits and programming to reach a wider demographic of Canadians from all walks of life. This summer, it’s organizing a traveling exhibit that will go across the country. “This was never just a Pier 21 story, it’s one that has a national resonance,” Chapman said.
( PHOTOS BY CEMA BOARD MEMBER ALEXANDER GERSHTEIN)
ABOUT THE WRITER SARAH TAGUIAM: Starting her journey from the Philippines with a detour in Saudi Arabia, Sarah has found a home in the cultural Mecca of Toronto. Currently studying journalism boot camp at the University of Toronto and Centennial College, she is a reporting intern at the Town Crier and a digital desk intern at Metro News Canada. Staying faithful to her third culture roots, Sarah pens stories about diversity, breaking news, and Toronto but also holds great interest in arts, crime, and technology.
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