In this session we were able to dig into the topic of “slow violence” and relate it to our personal lives. We had a conversation about hyper-masculinity in Cape Breton culture and one of our participants chimed in with a story about her family, which tends to fit this traditional mold – especially her grandfather. This makes it even more remarkable that her uncle was one of the first openly gay workers at the Sydney steel plant. The same uncle was killed in a tragic steel plant accident. This led us to a question for our short writing exercise: Did the Sydney steel plant have a positive or negative impact on Cape Breton? Not an easy question for sure but our participant was up to the task. She provided a balanced answer: “Although the steel plant had many negative impacts on the environment around it (tar ponds, workplace death/injuries) it provided a foundation for the growth of a city and gave jobs to otherwise struggling families.” She acknowledges that this is not a black and white issue and places herself firmly in a middle ground position but most importantly she was able to recognize the socio/economic impact that industrialization had on Cape Breton families.
We hope to build upon these issues, and many more like them, next week!