LOOKING BACK: History never stops – inviting stories from the pandemic

Maple Ridge Museum & Archives wants to hear from local residents about their experiences during COVID

By Shea Henry/Special to The News

This extraordinary time we find ourselves living in will certainly go down in the history books, and it is a great reminder to us all, that history never stops.

Here, at the museum, we collect archives and objects from the distant past and keep them safe for the future.

But for us, what happened just yesterday is also history and someday will be distant history.

Knowing that, we are always collecting objects and archives for the future, when our present is the past.

Like a good photograph, so many of the objects in our collections at the museum say a thousand words, or more. So what objects that come from this time will one day make it into an exhibit about 2020?

Most of us have seen the painted rocks with positive messages and images on them, strewn around parks and walkways around city.

These rocks have become a symbol of the pandemic and time we are in.

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They alone tell a long and complex story about what is happening during this time. Children are at home and in need of projects, communities have come together to support each other, families are spending more time outside, and positivity is the key to overcoming our anxieties and fears during uncertain times we find ourselves in.

In other uncertain times, people seem to always look towards art and creativity to get themselves through.

Pictured in this article is a First World War shell casing that was turned into a flower vase, with a Canadian uniform insignia welded to the front.

Such trench art was, and is, commonly made by soldiers during war as a way of creating something positive from the unceasing battles around them. This shell casing flower vase tells an intricate story of war and the lives of soldiers.

Now, imagine an exhibit on the pandemic 50 years from now.

I see disposable and homemade masks, a store sign stating they are out of disinfectant wipes, an empty tube of hand sanitizer, and perhaps even a few rolls of toilet paper.

But an exhibit about the pandemic would simply be incomplete without a few painted rocks. That is why a few of these rocks, delightfully left in Jim Hadgkiss Park just outside of the museum, have now become a permanent part of history, and our collection at the museum.

The museum, and the stories told here, do not just stop at physical objects.

We are constantly adding to our community archives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned life upside down, daily life has changed, drastically for some, and those experiences deserve to be recorded and preserved.

While we can, and do, collect media and social media responses to the pandemic, it is not the same as hearing the lived experience from local people.

The Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives is therefore asking for your help to record your experiences of the pandemic to be added to the archives. These submission can come in whatever creative form you wish; stories, journals, poems, drawings, letters, whatever creative outlet you wish.

These digital tales will provide a portrait of what everyday life was like during this unusual time.

These digital submissions will be added to the permanent archives at the museum and your pandemic story, experience, hopes, dreams, fears, and joys will become forever a part of our local history.

We are encouraging community members – from all ages and walks of life – to participate in our Quaren-Tales project.

Details and how to submit a tale can be found on our website.

– Shea Henry is the museum curator for the Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives.

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• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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