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pratieoaten2

Thank you for allowing Grey Roots to respond to Mr. Cummings letter to the editor expressing his thoughts about the replica Heritage Orange Hall built in Moreston Village at Grey Roots.

In 2009 we were approached by members of the Sarawak Orange Hall to move their period building to our site. It was deemed in too poor condition to move. They then offered to build a hall at their own expense. After years of discussion it was decided to  allow the building to be constructed (at their expense) and only provided that Grey Roots would tell a balanced story of the history of the orangelodgeemblemOrange movement. A gift is a gift and the hall is maintained and its stories told by Grey Roots staff and volunteers.

Grey County had 90 Orange Halls in its history and as such it is fitting to be represented at Grey Roots. It's also important to remember we are interpreting this building as it would have been in a1920s village and at that time these halls were woven into the community fabric and used for social events such as Women's Institute meetings, weddings, and special occasions.

The Heritage Orange Hall is also a great space for Grey Roots - we are excited to have this space to use for programming – for example next Saints & Sinners event, this space will be transformed into a speakeasy! We have very few spaces we can use for school programming and this lovely space is heated and can be used year round by the thousands of school children we educate each year.

Our job as storytellers is to tell all of the stories of Grey. As we gain confidence as storytellers we are telling more difficult histories. The first iteration of our Black history exhibit focused on slavery but only in the context that Blacks were escaping from the U.S. to make a new life in Canada. Our story did not include the fact that slavery had indeed existed in Canada (we abolished it earlier than the U.S.) nor did it talk about the racism Blacks experienced when they arrived here. Our new "Black Roots in Grey" exhibit talks about these difficult issues.

History matters. Our personal and political identities are woven from our lived experiences and are intimately tied to the historical experiences of our ancestors. Reading history, learning history, and even reflecting on history, difficult or otherwise, can trigger powerful reactions because we know that history matters. That is why it is crucial to tell all of our stories.

We are preparing the interpretive storyline for the hall so that next summer when the village is again open to the public we can tell the stories of Orange Halls in Grey in the 1920s as well as the history of the Orange movement. This is possible only through our precious village volunteers who interpret all of the period buildings.

I welcome anyone to contact me to discuss the Heritage Orange Hall. It is important to know the opinions and concerns of our community members.

Thank you.

Petal Furness

Manager, Grey Roots Museum & Archives

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