Provincial Ministerial Statement for the Hello Sailor Exhibit

pic Hon. David Wilson, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 Province House Halifax NS

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians take pride in their unique and diverse history and culture. In communities across the province museums are working hard to preserve that history and tell our stories.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very exciting day for the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Today the museum is making history as it holds the North American premiere of the exhibit, “Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave”.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a long journey for this exhibit to come to Halifax. That journey began with the experiences of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and intersex people over half a century ago.

Mr. Speaker, their stories lay hidden for much of the past 60 years until Dr. Jo Stanley and her colleague Paul Baker brought them to life in 2003 in the book, “Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea”. Their book chronicled the experiences of gay crew members on cruise ships and naval vessels that sailed out of England.

Mr. Speaker, the book led to the creation of the ‘Hello Sailor” exhibit by the Merseyside Museum in Liverpool, England in 2006. It ensured the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and intersex mariners were brought together for the public to appreciate.

And now, Mr. Speaker, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has brought “Hello Sailor” to Nova Scotia and added local content to make it even more relevant to Nova Scotians. I had the pleasure of attending a preview of the exhibit this morning at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and it is truly an impressive experience.

Mr. Speaker, the “Hello Sailor” exhibit is enhanced by the contributions of Dr. Stanley, who is guest curator for its North American debut. Nova Scotia is fortunate to have her experience and knowledge increase our understanding of our maritime heritage, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is what our museums do best. They bring forward unique parts of our history that have never been talked about or shown before. They help us to understand how our diverse culture and history make Nova Scotia such an incredible place to live, work and raise a family.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage has a mandate to support strong and vibrant communities. We do that in part by ensuring that our diverse culture and heritage is accurately and fairly presented in our museums.

But, Mr. Speaker, none of that would be possible without the hard work and dedication of museum staff. They do a remarkable job in interpreting and presenting our history to a varied audience.

Mr. Speaker, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is one of the top attractions for visitors to our province. Thanks to the imagination, skill and knowledge of the staff at the museum, there is now another reason for people to come to the Halifax waterfront - the “Hello Sailor” exhibit.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all members of the House and all Nova Scotians to take advantage of the unique opportunity “Hello Sailor” provides to learn more about our maritime heritage.

And Mr. Speaker, as Nova Scotians and their visitors set out to enjoy all our province has to offer during the summer months, I encourage them to visit their museums and share in the culture of life long learning they support.

Mr. Speaker, we all benefit from the excellent work of museum staff. Their attention to the details of our heritage helps to make life better for families across the province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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