On Thursday, Nov. 18, at 4:30 p.m. the University of Maine Canadian-American Center sponsored a lecture called “German Internment Camps and Archival Treasures in the Maritimes: Another Untold Story In P.S. Duffy’s ‘The Cartographer of No Man’s Land’” in the IMRC.
Professor Hollie Adams, who teaches both creative writing and Canadian literature at UMaine, coordinated this event. After many attempts to get Professor Jennifer Andrews from the University of New Brunswick to speak at UMaine since Adams began teaching, issues concerning the pandemic and border crossing got in the way of coordinating this event for the last two years.
Andrews closely studies the nation-state relationships between Canada and the United States as well as Indigenous literature and cultural studies. This event was held in-person and online in a hybrid format with Andrews’ image projected on the screen alongside a slideshow.
Andrews explained that there are a lot of hidden histories in Canada that actually go against the grain of typical Canadian stereotypes. Many Americans view Canada as an inclusive and welcoming country, but in actuality there is a lot of racism and xenophobia written into the framework of Canadian history. During World War I there was a lot of anti-German propaganda in Canada, and most Canadians supported the British efforts in WWI. In Amherst, Nova Scotia, a confinement camp for prisoners of war was built around 1915 and stayed in operation for about five to seven years, with terrible living conditions. The camp had mostly, if not all, prisoners of German descent, and their guards were Canadian citizens from all backgrounds.
Because of America’s neutrality for the majority of WWI and their geographical proximity to Canada, Germany often asked American soldiers and government officials to check in on these camps. American officials would then take oddly staged pictures of the prisoners to make the camps look less detrimental than they actually were. The pictures depicted the men playing instruments or doing outdoor recreation activities.
The discussion concluded with a brief question and answer segment.
The Canadian-American center is located on College Ave and is dedicated to the study of Canadian history in the United States. The center is responsible for coordinating Canadian studies programs on campus, as well as events which highlight Canadian culture and history. For more information on the Canadian-American center and what they do visit https://umaine.edu/canam/.