Carol Sprachman Lecture

CFFM sponsors the Carole Sprachman 2016 Lecture in Halifax, Nova Scotia
featuring Dr. George Elliot Clarke Canada’s 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate

dr clarke

The Carol Sprachman Lecture Series was named to honour the memory of an outstanding museum volunteer and CFFM pioneer, Carol Sprachman. As a former colleague declared, Carol was the CFFM, helping to establish the organization from its very inception and living daily. She had the drive, the vision and the network of connections to lead the CFFM to the fulfillment of its mission. As an unpaid, devoted volunteer “professional”, Carol raised the visibility of all museum volunteers and in so doing won an award for her contributions to Canadian museums and to the Canadian Museum Association (CMA).  Carol died of cancer in 1999, far too young at the age of 69. In honour of a vibrant and generous life devoted to Canada’s museums and their volunteers, her friends, family and colleagues founded the Carol Sprachman Memorial Fund specifically to sponsor an annual lecture by a leading Canadian voice of culture.

Dr. George Elliot Clarke is a seventh-generation Canadian of African-American and Mi’kmaq heritage, whose work as a poet, playwright and literary critic explores the African experience in Canada, especially in Nova Scotia, where he is a well-known active advocate of its history. In 2001, he won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for his book, Execution Poems. In 2008, he was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada. Poet Laureate of Toronto since 2012,  Dr. Clarke was appointed Canada’s 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate in 2016.

Dr. Clarke was introduced by Curator & Director of Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, Robin Metcalfe. Dr. Clarke’s engaging lecture was composed largely of his poems that tell a unique history of Canada’s African and native history.  Dr Clarke spoke of slavery as the “Genesis myth” for those in Canada who are descended from enslaved Africans.  Describing a visit to a slavery museum in Bordeaux (a major point of departure for many slave ships), he spoke of his ambivalence towards, and scepticism about, standard museum displays on the subject.  The dominant narratives “fetishise” history as a source of identity for people of African descent, they tend to omit the European side of that history: how slavery has been essential to the prosperity of Bordeaux, for instance. The legacy of slavery shapes white reality as much as it does that of African Canadians.

Dr. Clarke certainly set the tone and provoked many thoughts at the start of the annual CMA conference.Visit here for more about Dr Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate.

The Carol Sprachman Lecture is part of the CMA (Canadian Museums Association) National Conference.