Friday, August 22, 2008

Pier 21 Canada's Immigration Museum

Pier 21, Halifax, Nova ScotiaA place that is very near and dear to my heart is Pier 21. It's a museum/interpretive centre/art gallery located along Halifax's waterfront. In 2007, it was voted one of Canada's Seven Wonders in a national contest.

It was at Pier 21 where 1 million immigrants, displaced persons and war brides first stepped foot on Canadian soil between the years of 1928 and 1971. To these people, every day was Canada Day. Canada was a country of hope and promise for a better future.

This National Historic Site was lovingly restored and re-opened with national fanfare on July 1st, 1999. I had the privilege of working at Pier 21 for 4 1/2 years. I've never worked in a place where I was so inspired and so moved. It instilled in me a strong pride in my country and it's immigrants. Cause, when you think of it, we are all immigrants (with the exception of First Nations, such as the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq).

We all have a story to tell and Pier 21 is all about stories. Some are poignant, of surviving the holocaust and weeping for joy when finally arriving in Halifax to start anew. It was always nice to see them, years later, return to the new Pier 21 with their families. The emotions of that day of arrival are still very raw and sometimes there are tears. I recall one day a man stood quietly alone, looking pensive, after a very long time, he knelt down and kissed the floor.

That's my Canada.

P.S. The guy in the photo is our friend Rob from BC. His father arrived in Canada through Pier 21 from Holland.

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