Telling History, Making Art: How 2 Artists Explore PEI Heritage

Teresa Kuo will be working on an animated short, Where My Branches Stem, while Scott Parsons will compose an album on the historic Black Islanders. (Submitted by Teresa Kuo and Scott Parsons)

Two Charlottetown artists have each received arts grants to undertake projects that examine the significance of cultural heritage and envision personal identity, one of them also uncovering a hidden history in Prince Island. -Edouard.

Teresa Kuo received a $ 5,000 provincial grant to direct and host a seven-minute film that tells the story of a young Chinese woman who leaves her professional life in the city to return home with her grandfather. This leads the woman to understand the importance of her cultural identity.

Kuo said she hopes the short will reach more than a Chinese-Canadian audience.

“[It’s] a story of leaving home and then missing out on who you are and your background and coming back to that and reconnecting with family and finding what’s important to you as you get older, ”said Kuo. “I think it’s something that everyone can relate to. “

A still image from Kuo’s upcoming animation, Where The Branches Stem. (Submitted by Teresa Kuo)

Self-reflection in the cinema

Kuo has said that she relates to what the protagonist of her short is going through, and many others would as well. “It definitely concerns me, but I also feel like it’s not special just for my experience,” she said.

Kuo, who is of Taiwanese descent, said she was delighted to receive the scholarship for the arts to start a very important project for her.

“A lot of these works based on art, it takes a lot of time, a lot of time sacrificed too. So any amount of money is useful to try not only to finish the movie, but also to be able to put everything in. my vision in creating all the details. “

Kuo’s short film is titled Where do my branches come from? She said it was a pun on the Chinese lunar solar calendar and the theme of the short film.

“The Chinese lunar solar calendar is represented by the 12 earthly branches, as well as the 10 celestial stems,” she said.

“I [also] thought about the girl, you know, trying to redeem herself with everything and get back to her roots, and it all made sense in that title. “

Teresa Kuo’s animated film is still in production. She hopes to have it produced by February 2023. (Submitted by Teresa Kuo)

PEI’s Forgotten History

Scott Parsons, another provincial grant recipient, will use his $ 6,000 to record an album that tells the stories of prominent black islanders whose stories have been forgotten.

For him, it’s important to share their stories because they tell more than black history, Parsons said.

“It’s not just the story of the Black Islanders, it’s the story of Prince Edward Island. [These are] people who have lived here, worked here and are part of the community, ”he said.

“I think it’s important that not only islanders, but people around the world, know this story.

The black community has contributed a lot to the society here but we are never really recognized. It was just something people didn’t seem to know.– Scott Parsons

He is grateful for the support of Innovation PEI and the province through the grant, said Parsons.

“I have received a lot of support from them over the years. I have written songs about black history in Prince Edward Island for the past 25 years.

One of these songs, Father please, tells the story of Paul Keough, a black islander who was adopted in Prince Edward Island and returned to the island to reunite with his biological parents.

“He and his wife came back here and they knew that a priest from the town center [in Charlottetown] had information about who his natural parents were, but the priest didn’t tell him, ”Parsons said.

“So he and his wife said, ‘Father, we just want you to know that we will be here every day at noon to interrupt your dinner until you tell us what you know.’ [and] they did it.”

Parson said the priest eventually spoke to Keough about his parents, who then met his birth mother on her deathbed. Keough’s father was Benny Binns, a notable boxer from PEI.

“I think it’s important that not only Islanders, but people around the world, know this story,” says Scott Parsons. (Submitted by Scott Parsons)

Parsons said he was inspired to write songs from a book called Black islanders by Jim Hornby. The book tells the story of black Prince Edward Island notables like Binns.

Hornby’s book is one of the few historical artifacts telling the story of black people in Prince Edward Island, he said.

“The black community has contributed a lot to society here, but we never really got recognized. It was just something that people just didn’t seem to know about,” he said.

Parsons also hopes to receive a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts so he can complete a larger version of the project, which he would produce by the spring.

Kuo, meanwhile, expects her short to be finished and submitted to film festivals by February 2023. Adrian Irvine, a Prince Edward Island violinist and songwriter, will produce the soundtrack for his soundtrack. movie.

For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.



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