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Remembering ourselves

  • Helen Klonaris

Guardian Arts&Culture

Published: Jun 29, 2013

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Bahamian writer, performer, educator and Gaulin Project founder Helen Klonaris continues her work in the development of the writing community today with the one-day retreat, “Remembering Ourselves: Healing Our Colonial Legacy”.

Taking place at the Cancer Society of The Bahamas’ Cancer Caring Centre 10 a.m.-5 p.m., the retreat is part of The Gaulin Project’s Beloved Community Series and the Bahamas Writers Summer Institute’s (BWSI) Imagining the Nation.

“As 40 years of independence dawns, it is a good time to talk about healing our colonial legacy,” said Klonaris. “One of the ways colonization hurts us is by stripping us of our memory of who we were, of our ancestral lineages and of the cultural richness of those lineages. Who we are as a people and who we can become depends on how well we can remember who we were and where we have come from.

“We will remember where we have come from as Bahamians of African, Asian and European descent. We will ask ourselves, and each other, how our shared colonial legacy has impacted our lives and our social relations. We will bear witness to each other’s stories. We will explore how we might transform our relationships to the past and to each other in the present.”

The retreat is expected to encompass creative writing to explore cultural and personal stories about shared colonial legacy; silent contemplation; active imagining; a safe and compassionate space in which to explore issues of race, colonization and community and Sacred witness.

The Gaulin Project is a migratory creative inquiry program that brings together the art of writing, a passion for justice and deep relationship to the Sacred in all things, Klonaris explains.

“The Gaulin Project understands the imagination as a liminal space, that is, an in-between space where our unconscious and conscious minds meet and talk to each other. The ensuing alchemy generates transformations that are not surface but deep, from the inside out,” she said.

“At the heart of The Gaulin Project’s mission is its desire and commitment to be part of global movements to imagine a just and sacred world. In a postcolonial context, this means an engagement with the legacies of colonization and racism, patriarchy and heterosexism and the numerous ways in which these systems have split cultures, communities and human beings from themselves and each other.”

The Gaulin Project’s Beloved Community Series is part of a series of ongoing workshops and retreats that seek to create “beloved community”, a concept proposed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “through the confrontation and transformation of social issues which have historically divided us as human beings”.

BWSI’s Imaging the Nation also takes place this weekend. Its opening event last night was a “Writers in Community” talk with Keisha Ellis, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Kareem Mortimer, Ian Strachan and Obediah M. Smith, held at Buy the Book.

The panel, discussing the theme “Imagining the Nation”, examined the role of the writer in imagining who we are as a society 40 years independent, and who we can be 40 and 500 years from now.

The writers explored how they imagine various aspects of the country's development, including race, class, gender, sexuality and spirituality. They also talked about the role of imagination in nation-building and the challenges writers face personally and culturally in the creation of new stories.

There will also be a screening of BWSI co-founder Marion Bethel and Maria Govan’s film “Womanish Ways, Freedom, Human Rights & Democracy: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas 1948-1962” at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) at 7 o’clock tonight.

The weekend will close out with “Reclaiming the Sovereignty of Our Imaginations” with BWSI co-founder Klonaris at Unity Church at 11 a.m. This discussion is about the necessity of imagining and opening one’s mind to tell the stories that are often suppressed.

• For more information, write to thegaulinproject@gmail.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/TheGaulinProject or http://helenklonaris.com/the-gaulin-project/.

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