I've been hearing good and specific questions about the 5 weeks of practice I'll hold outdoors at Providence Farm in August. I'd like to clarify some things, and to highlight others.
As I've written before, from 1864 to 1964 Providence Farm was a school run by the Catholic order of St. Ann, with students from Indigenous and settler communities in different stages through its existence. I've made sporadic efforts in the last 10 years to research its role in our region, and I've come up relatively empty. Recently I received some help from others who've gotten deeper into primary research, and confirmed that this school was not part of the group of five Residential Schools found at Penelakut and 4 other places around Vancouver Island, contrary to what I previously understood from a government list of schools that were both included in and excluded from compensation for victims. The distinction is an important one as we make our gradual way through layers of stories and unknowns toward facts and disillusionment about our past and present. My understanding of our history is a work in progress which I expect will be disrupted again. Such is the learning path. My intention is to open our 2021 community of practice –– in a gentle and honest way –– to the significance and the power of the places we dance and live.
The farm's history since 1979 has been one of community service undertaken by an independent organization offering therapeutic programming to adults and seniors with mental health challenges, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and age-related illnesses. As we've met at this site since 2015, I've noticed that when people step onto these grounds to dance and reconnect, they become aware of and stirred by the layered and diverse histories and feelings of this place that has enduring meaning here. The power of this spot on Earth, and our personal relationship with what it might represent to us and to how we interact with communities, individuals, and the territory we occupy, are meaningful, and will be fruitful if we allow them to.