Tragedy, courage and remembrance : Retelling a lost Canadian story
Documentary on Sheldrake Island of the Lost Stories Project
To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, the project Lost Stories, under the leadership of Dr. Ronald Rudin of Concordia University in Montreal will present four new artwork and video projects that bring to light little-known events in Canada’s past.
The story chosen to represent Atlantic Canada is that of the spread of leprosy on the north-eastern coast of New-Brunswick during the mid nineteenth century. On April 13, 1844, a law ordered the sequestration of lepers living along the shores from Miramichi to Caraquet. They were brought by will or by force to Sheldrake Island where they were housed in crude buildings, largely unfit for human habitation where they were mostly forgotten.
These men, women and children survived five long years of suffering in exile before they were transferred to a lazaretto in Tracadie. Unfortunately, fifteen had already succumbed and are buried there on the island. Having been isolated, abandoned, feared and scorned, it is in memory of their determination and their courage that we want to tell their story, and thus restore some of their dignity.
A work of art, inspired by this event will be placed on the grounds of Sts Peter and Paul church in Bartibogue Bridge, overlooking Sheldrake Island. Toward the end of 2017or early 2018, a documentary film will beavailable. This part of the project is funded through the Federal Government’s Canada 150 funds for Signature projects.
This is all possible thanks to the relentless work of the committee members of Commémoration Sheldrake Commemoration, a sub-committee of Musee historique de Tracadie, Inc. It is made up of 10 members representing la Péninsule acadienne, Bartibogue Bridge and Miramichi. The committee is presently raising funds to prepare the site where the work of art will be officially placed, and unveiled on July 19, 2017 at 2 p.m.