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Transcript of YouTube Clip - Oral History at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

We can learn a lot about immigration from government records and other historical documents- but they don’t give us everything we need to know.

Here at the Museum an Oral History is a recorded interview that focuses on a person’s immigration experience in the context of their overall life experience.

Oral History interviews are unique. They give us insights and anecdotes and stories that simply don’t exist anywhere else in the historical record.

Very, very scared. It’s my first time to go out of my country. And no relatives here, no one whatsoever. I don’t even know the face of the person who is picking me up from the airport.

We collect Oral History interviews with people who live throughout Canada, and we seek to represent the country’s diversity.

The Oral Histories have a tremendous impact because they’re personal.

You’re learning what it was like to arrive in Vienna after the Warsaw Pact invasion. You’re learning what it was like to leave Kampala after Idi Amin expelled all of the Ugandan Asians. You’re learning about historical events through first hand experiences.

Here at the Museum oral histories are used in a number of ways. Today for example we are at the BMO Oral History Gallery where we’ve identified a number of themes where people talk about their experiences and visitors are able to learn through these first hand experiences about being in Canada.

Well, I guess it came about because of the questions people sometimes ask you. Like the first thing that they ask is where are you from? And I was like man, why do I find it so difficult when someone says where are you from?

The content from Oral History interviews is present everywhere in the Museum: In our two exhibitions, the core exhibit and the temporary exhibition, and also in the travelling exhibitions that travel everywhere in Canada.

The Museums also draws upon the Oral History interviews for research purposes, they’re also used on the Museum’s website and eventually the entire collection will be available online. So no matter where you are, you’ll be able to access an excerpt from each interview and a short biography of the each person though the online database.

It’s a real honour to be able to hear these stories and to share them and the Museum is very grateful to all of the people who have given this gift not just to the Museum, but to the historical record and also to the Canadian public.