Canada History Week 2022 Learning Tool

Canada History Week 2022 Learning Tool Activity 3.1 Portia White The first record of opera in Canada was in 1606, followed almost two hundred years later by a full performance in Quebec City in 1783. Opera originated in Italy, came to dominate the European scene, and rose to international prominence, spreading across Canada. The first Canadian opera company was established in the 1800s, and Dame Emma Albani became the first Canadian opera singer to rise to international stardom. A genre related to opera, concert singing, also gained prominence in Canada around this time. Today, the Canadian classical music and opera scene is heavily based in the European style, but incorporates other global influences. As in many artistic fields, the history of classical music in Canada is lacking in representation. Exclusivity, discriminatory policies, and systemic racism has barred many from entering the field as professionals, limiting opportunities, and restricting the inclusion of diverse musical influences. People who overcame these barriers were the exception, not the rule, and their stories are rare. One person who managed to rise to the top despite systemic barriers was Portia White, considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century. 1. As a class, watch the Portia White video and read her biography on TCE, as well as the Black History in Canada: 1900–1960 article, and take point-form notes. You can also do supplementary research on Black communities in Nova Scotia. 2. Imagine you are a reporter interviewing Portia White in the late 1940s. Using your notes and additional online research, write an article for your newspaper that answers the following questions: a) Why is Portia a trailblazer? What obstacles has she faced in her career? b) Why is Portia’s success so important? c) Is it important to have representation? Why or why not? What does it mean to you to see people that represent your experiences in the media? d) As a proud Nova Scotian ‘African Baptist,’ Portia White sang spirituals as part of her repertoire, which also included Italian arias, Quebecois folk songs, German lieder, and more. Why might this this kind of diverse representation be important for Canadian composers, musicians, and singers today? e) Add a post-script as if the article was being re-published today, and add a modern perspective: Of the obstacles Portia faced, which, if any, still exist today? Portia White video HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE: Begin with a lead sentence that will immediately grab the attention of the reader. Your introduction should establish the context and answer the 5Ws: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Use direct quotes to help frame your story, but use them sparingly for the most impact. Your main body should provide evidence to back up your story and you can either sum up your story succinctly in a traditional conclusion or find a suitable and effective closing quotation. Always be sure to review the historical background of your story to highlight relevant facts that may otherwise go unnoticed. 10. Portia White (Yousuf Karsh/Library and Archives Canada/PA-192783).