What we can learn from recording the experiences of BIPOC elders on P.E.I.

·2 min read
Sobia Ali-Faisal, executive director with BIPOC USHR, says stories are being lost as people from the community pass away. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
Sobia Ali-Faisal, executive director with BIPOC USHR, says stories are being lost as people from the community pass away. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

An oral history research project will focus on what life used to be like on P.E.I. for people of colour.

A summer student working with the group BIPOC USHR — which stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour United for Strength, Home, Relationship — will record interviews with elders to ensure their stories are never lost or forgotten.

Sobia Ali-Faisal, executive director of BIPOC USHR, said it's important to preserve these stories for future generations.

"A lot of people, they're getting older in the community. A lot of people have passed on, and so these stories are leaving us, this knowledge is leaving us. And before we lose any more, I really wanted to be able to collect some of those stories, at least so that we have them on record."

The cultural landscape of P.E.I. continues to evolve as immigration drives a steady growth in population.

But Ali-Faisal said it's interesting to hear from some of the first people to arrive on P.E.I. from places like Asia and Africa in the 1960s and '70s, about what it was like to see P.E.I. change over the years, to see their own communities grow, and how they were able to stay connected to their own cultures despite being such a small minority.

'What was it like'

"So there's a lot really to learn for Islanders in general, but also for new immigrants from those same parts of the world. What was it like to be amongst the first immigrants to come here from that part of the world and to understand what their experiences were like and how more difficult they were, really, compared to what it's like today?"

The project is expected to last about eight weeks. The recorded interviews will be kept but also transcribed.

Ali-Faisal hopes the project will eventually be included in the provincial archives and the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation.

"This is a part of P.E.I. history, it's a part of a P.E.I. story, and I think it should be made accessible that way."

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