Between 2012 and 2017, Nova Scotia-based Narratives in Space + Time Society (NiS+TS) brought together more than 100 collaborators and hundreds of participants in several public art walks for Walking the Debris Field: Public Geographies of the Halifax Explosion. Through co-creation, including strategies of collaboration and sensorial storytelling in an embodied practice of creative citizenship, NiS+TS was able to generate—in time for the centenary of the devastating 1917 explosion in the Halifax harbour—a choreographed assembly that ably juxtaposed missing memories, histories, legacies, and present-day possibilities. Until the last few years, very few of the stories about the explosion and its aftermath included Mi'kmaq, working-class, immigrant, or African Nova Scotian experiences, even though these were communities deeply affected by the explosion. The first NiS+TS public art walk offering experiences of these stories drew fifty people, while the final attracted almost 200. The Debris Field events also resulted in the production of new forms of storytelling, including a free iOS app, 'Drifts,' and a shared website with the City of Halifax in time for the centenary (intothedebrisfield.ca). The kind of embedded, grounded power reflected in projects like Debris Field came through the growing assemblies of participants engendered by NiS+TS. The coordinated movements of such large bodies of people through spaces on which certain communities have been built, and from which other communities have been erased, makes more pertinent, and far less abstract, the deeply sedimented histories of class, gender, race, and mobility/ability in the city.


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pp. 41-47
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