The commons pool. A lot of people in my generation grew up swimming here. I also swam here and saw other Black kids. Black kids that looked like me. Their skin glistened with water droplets. Just like mine. And in this pool This playground City park pool We all looked the same. And I belonged somewhere. And now I see my kids play with water Their relationship Their calm Their ancestral understanding of its temperaments Being water themselves.
The Water Beside Us
I am an African Nova Scotian arrivant and Acadian settler here in Mi’kma’ki. I’m a Queer woman continuing to navigate addiction and mental health issues, as well as an artist, parent, and organizer with a fairly public profile. For better or worse. I am here and doing the best I can to ask questions -- lots of ‘em. Ultimately, I believe that with contemporary dreaming and recovering ancestral language, practice, culture, community ideals and systemic organization, we can create a society with space for more joy and less suffering. There IS enough to go around.
In this work, I am exploring my relationship as a Black person, as an African Nova Scotian person, to water. I am also exploring scale. Is this a lot of water? Or a little? A pool? Or a cup? Up to you. Playing with motion, light, photography, collage, poetry, acrylic and watercolour paint, marker, and feeling, I explore the water beside me. Near me. Within reach. What is the quality of this water? What does it remind me of? Where does it take me mentally? What is my daydream? What universe am I in right now? I don't know, you tell me. Imagine. Mull over some words that fell into my lap. In the space that holds my words, I also ask questions about environmental racism. Who DOESN’T have water and why not? There is no good answer.
The transcript or descriptive text for this piece can be found by touching the "Text" button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen in the "View the Art" section.
kate macdonald was born and raised in Halifax, NS. Proudly African Nova Scotian she studied Performance Acting at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. At the end of 2016, with the political climate swiftly changing, she felt called to mobilize. Out of this desire to make a change, she founded and created The Magic Project, which focuses on bringing marginalized brilliance to the forefront of social media using various forms of visual art. kate is a community facilitator, programmer, activist, artist and curator. She hopes to continue creating and designing workshops, holding space for community discussions and empowering marginalized youth through celebration. Her art practice has always included photography, poetry and performance theatre, but she has been long fascinated with all art forms she comes across. Themes that especially interest macdonald include justice, healing, joy, magic, self, community, energy, shapes/movement, and ancestral connection. Recently, kate, Trayvone Clayton & DeRico Symonds created an African Nova Scotian community-based, youth-led initiative called The Game Changers. Currently, kate is the Branch Manager at the North Branch Memorial Library -- a branch that has long been a staple in the African Nova Scotian community.
Most recently, kate has been selected for the Eye Level Artist-in-Residence program and for the Bus Stop Writers’ Circle Grant, which allows emerging writers to work on their craft and develop new ideas.
The Commons used to be a marsh. A brook ran through it from Clifton and St Alban’s (close to Good Robot Brewing Co.) all the way down to the Harbour at the foot of Inglis Street, where it was used to replenish the fresh water supplies of ships, hence its name Freshwater Brook. The brook fed Black Duck Pond in the Central Common which, in the first half of the 20th century, was known as Egg Pond and was used for swimming, skating and boating. Today, Black Duck Pond is the Skate Park. Freshwater Brook resurfaced recently because of an excavation near the Museum of Natural History related to the new hospital parkade. A 2006 HRM policy states that the municipality should consider daylighting watercourses when existing infrastructure undergoes repair or replacement.
This hasn’t happened yet here on the Commons, but across the harbour another small watercourse has begun to see the light of day. In 2014, EAC led the campaign to daylight the Sawmill River in Dartmouth. More than 200 people showed up to walk the length of the previously-buried river, and many more wrote letters to their councillors. Their efforts succeeded - that is, phase 1 of the daylighting is complete. The daylit portion of Sawmill River now provides much-improved fish passage (remember that seal they found in Shubie Park?), better stormwater management and increased access to water for people in a rapidly developing residential area. When you've finished taking in kate’s art and contemplating water and its connection to us and our city, take a (st)roll over to Dartmouth and the end of the Shubie Canal.