Miia Suokonautio Reviews Graphic Anthology of Nova Scotia History

"Maybe I'm a history lover after all"

Nova Graphica
Edited by Laura Ķeniņš
Conundrum Press

There are many cliches about history: it is written by the captor; if you don’t know it you’re doomed to repeat it; it holds all the secrets of statecraft.  But, if your  exposure to learning history is limited to high school classes, and the painful memorization of dates and names, you probably think you’re not a big buff.

That’s maybe more of who I am than I would readily admit.  I’m usually awed by people who understand history and its complexities and how, really, today is just an extension of yesterday.

Plus, I confess, I’m a bit overwhelmed when asked to recite the notable acts of Cabot, Cartier, and Montcalm.

History is so often given to us in these grand gestures that sometimes I’m left only with the vague notion that, “Yes, that’s important, I should remember that.” And then don’t.

Enter stage left an unlikely hero: Nova Graphica.  This gem of a book turns on its head the whole universe of history telling.  In fact, it does what history should: it tells stories.

We enter the artwork, we are marked by the narratives and we see the thread of time woven from yesteryear to today to tomorrow. No story is too small to have significance: I will forever note the carports and double sinks in Fairview and think of the Daughter of the North Mountain as I pass through the Valley. I will look at a $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond with new eyes.

Nova Graphica is ultimately a book of stories that just happen to be true and just happen to have taken place in this province. But as Rudyard Kipling said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

Maybe I’m a history lover after all.

PS Don’t be put off that Nova Graphica is about Nova Scotia.  Like any good story, this book and its tales and artwork can be enjoyed anywhere, any time.

Written By

Miia Suokonautio is a Halifax-based social worker and proud Finnish-Canadian. She is currently the executive director of YWCA Halifax.

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