The Canada Games Collection, spearheaded by Brock University Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak, will be a publicly available collection of diverse stories of people’s experiences of past Canada Games.
“We’re creating a collection of material that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Canada,” said Vlossak. She hopes Canadians of all backgrounds and experiences will share their stories, whether positive or negative.
The project came about as Vlossak was preparing for her new course, Making History in Niagara, which will see students create an online museum exhibition about the Games to launch in time for the 2021 Canada Summer Games in Niagara next August. Vlossak discovered there weren’t many sources for students to work with and decided to create this new collection.
“We had originally imagined the collection would consist of oral history interviews we are conducting with past Canada Games Council members, high-profile athletes and Games officials,” she said. “But as the project evolved, we realized that these should not be the only voices and narratives that we include in the collection.”
Vlossak thought it would be important to include the stories of a more diverse range of Canadians, young and old, about their experiences and memories of the Games.
“We decided that crowd-sourcing would allow us to reach out to more people and capture these personal and local memories more effectively,” she said.
Vlossak is asking people with Canada Games memories, whether as athletes, coaches, local organizers, volunteers or attendees to share their images and thoughts about their experiences through the project’s website.
Crowd-sourced material, including digitized Canada Games artifacts, will form part of the larger collection featuring interviews with individuals about their experiences and exploring themes such as race, class, gender, disability, immigration and Indigenous rights.
Vlossak and Brock History master’s student Jessica Linzel, who was awarded a Match of Minds grant to help the professor build the collection, will contact some participants for follow-up interviews.
“I’m looking forward to hearing the stories of those who have been involved in or affected by the Canada Games, and learning more about how the Games have helped shape people’s identities as Canadians in sport,” says Linzel. “I’m also excited to see the types of material we gain through crowd-sourcing and getting to see how different people have experienced the Canada Games in their lifetime.”
The public are invited to upload their images, such as personal photos from the Games, medals, or memorabilia, and to reflect on what the Games meant to them.
The Canada Games Collection, hosted by Brock’s Special Collections and Archives, will become available to the public in October and will be an important source for students to build their online museum, as well as for future researchers. The collection is part of a larger project also launching this fall, called the Sport Oral History Archive, which Vlossak is co-leading with Julie Stevens, Associate Professor in Sport Management and Special Advisor to the President, Canada Games.