The other day I took my family for a walk around my land. It is just a handful of acres now, a field farmed for soybean or alfalfa. It once was part of a much larger 100-acre plot that was the outline of the family farm that formed the basis of Prince Edward Island culture before Canada was a gleam in our colonial parent’s eye. My family arrived in 1820, surviving a poor winter passage that saw land titles lost at sea. The result was that my ancestors had to lease poor quality land from non-resident landowners, never having the security to the call the land their own. They built houses and cleared land, developing roads and spaces for high-yield crops in our deep red soil. But if they missed a lease payment, it could all be lost.
Part of my family legend is my great-great-grandfather’s role in the “land question” in PEI. Like the fight in Ireland, Prince Edward Islanders engaged in a number of populist protests and political pressures to get the right to own the land. We take this right for granted, now, but in the moment of Canada’s birth–more than 40 years after my family began farming their land–we still couldn’t purchase the land we had turned from scrubby forest to farm, home, church, and community.
Nicolas decided to tell the story of our ancestor’s actions that landed him in jail for 6 months in 1865. There is a family debate about how true the charges were, but Nicolas showed me the affidavit and other legal papers he found in the archive. He interviewed family members, historians, and PEI’s lead archivist. When he became a finalist at our provincial heritage fair, he was invited to submit a video about his project for a chance to be a delegate to a national conference in Ottawa (our capital–it’s not Toronto as most suppose!).
I could not believe how long he spent writing, filming, and editing this video! Hours he spent, hunched over a laptop. I held the camera and helped filled out paperwork. His mother offered editorial support and hot chocolate. But the video is his own.
So, please consider voting for Nicolas’ project right now! Click on the link below. You can give one vote for each email address.