Wait a Her­itage Minute

The Coast - - THIS WEEK -

I am the con­sult­ing pro­ducer and co-writer of the re­cent Lucy Maud Mont­gomery Her­itage Minute pro­duced by His­tor­ica Canada, where I work as Her­itage Min­utes man­ager. I was dis­ap­pointed by the in­ac­cu­ra­cies in Megan Wennberg’s re­cent piece in the Voice of the City sec­tion of your news­pa­per, in which she sug­gests that the idea for our Mont­gomery Her­itage Minute was hers (“Hir­ing white men in Toronto to tell our sto­ries: A part of our her­itage,” March 29). I would like to re­ply to her claim.

It will not sur­prise any­one to learn that we have re­ceived many sug­ges­tions over the years for a Her­itage Minute on Lucy Maud Mont­gomery, one of Canada’s best-known writ­ers.. In Jan­uary 2017, in my other ca­pac­ity of man­ag­ing ed­i­tor of The Cana­dian En­cy­clo­pe­dia (an on­line ref­er­ence work about Canada), we be­gan work­ing with Mont­gomery scholar Dr. Mary Ru­bio and her team to up­date our con­tent. We wanted to ex­pand our Min­utes col­lec­tion to in­clude more women’s sto­ries— which we in­cluded as an area of in­ter­est in the call invit­ing sub­mis­sions from film­mak­ers for new Her­itage Min­utes. We re­ceived three pitches on Mont­gomery.

Ms. Wennberg points to what she calls strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween her pitch and our Minute. It would be sur­pris­ing if this were not the case. The var­i­ous Mont­gomery pitches we re­ceived typ­i­cally had sim­i­lar fea­tures based on the widely known facts of her life and work

Ms. Wennberg also claims the fo­cus on de­pres­sion comes from her pitch. In fact, this an­gle came from our in­ter­est in shar­ing a lesser-known as­pect of the Cana­dian icon’s ex­pe­ri­ence. We felt this was also an op­por­tune way to ex­plore an is­sue that di­rectly af­fects mil­lions of Cana­di­ans.

We hired Stephen Dunn as di­rec­tor; he has shown great sen­si­tiv­ity to is­sues of men­tal health and beau­ti­fully cap­tured the sweep­ing land­scapes of his na­tive New­found­land in his first fea­ture, Closet Mon­ster.

As to the is­sue of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in sto­ry­telling, Ms. Wennberg ac­knowl­edges our com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity in the sub­jects we choose for Min­utes. In terms of work­ing with more fe­male di­rec­tors, we look for­ward to do­ing so in fu­ture and we ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of mak­ing space for women’s voices—a sen­ti­ment with which Lucy Maud Mont­gomery would surely agree. —Davida Aronovitch, man­ager, Her­itage Min­utes

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