Hayley Caldwell’s Grand Opening Speech

14 May 2013

Hi, I just wanted to begin by first thanking everyone for coming and for all the hardwork that has gone into putting on an event like this.
 And in particular all the staff at the Oral History Centre, the donors, and especially professors Alexander Freund and Nolan Reilly for their steadfast support and encouragement for all their students.

I’m a fourth year student here in the Honours History program here at the University of Winnipeg and I cannot be happier with the education that I have received so far and part of that is part in parcel due to the Oral History Centre and to Alex and Nolan.

Last year I took the course History of Winnipeg, which is an oral history course taught by Nolan Reilly and it was pivotal moment in my studies here because it really changed my perspective on how to look at the past not as something that was objectively reconstructed but something that was subjectively negotiated. We were asked to do an oral history project, prior to this point I had never even thought about oral history or considered it an important methodology and so this was quite a challenging task to take on. But we must through and there were many challenges along the way but my partner, Lauren Finkel, and I completed an extensive study on the history of the Winnipeg Roller Rink and it was a social history study but we did use oral history methodologies and conducted eight life stories interviews. It was definitely a learning process but we figured it out and with the guidance of Dr. Reilly.   And , although we tried to change our topic numerous times, Professor Reilly insisted that we stick with it and insisted that it would all work out in the end. I’m so thankful to have had the chance to participate in a project like this and it was throughout this process that I really feel that I learned how to make History instead of just consuming it.

Haley Caldwell at the Grand Opening of the Oral History Centre.

But these were the early days of the Oral History Centre, before the technical support staff, Zoom 2HN recorders, transcription pedals, editing software, and it’s really amazing how far it has come in a whole year. I remember Lauren and I sitting in the hallway doing an interview for the the project, lockers slamming in the background, recording the interview on our Iphones.  But we pulled through and following these experiences and excitement about the Winnipeg Roller Rink we were hooked on oral history. And because wanted to do more projects and we thought that there was other students out there just like us that perhaps wanted to do so as well, we decided to found the Oral History Centre Student’s Association. And as Nolan mentioned we did have our first conference in the fall and we were putting together the conference , we actually called around to all the different universities in Canada that have oral history courses or oral history studies—Concordia University for example. And just to see if they perhaps had a format for a similar type of process. And we actually found that no, no other universities in Canada actually had even thought of starting an Oral History Centre Student’s Association. So we were unique. Currently, Lauren and I have been working on a project with the Oral History Centre on Jewish Delis in Winnipeg and things have been seamlessly smoother than our previous project. And so we are so grateful to the Oral History Centre for providing us with the facilities, staff and technical support to help us product a more professional product.

So thank you so much for all of your time and if you’re interested in seeing the Winnipeg Roller Rink project, it’s actually on display in the back of the room there. Once the crowd start to diverse a little bit, I encourage you to come look. We have headphones so you can listen to the interviews that we did.


So thank you very much for your time and thanks for coming.