Public knowledge of the Edmonton Grads has ebbed and flowed. It seems that every new generation rediscovers the Grads and their sporting achievements. Why do they slip from public consciousness? Simply put, this happens quite regularly to historical figures who hold marginalized identities. For instance, can you name Edmonton’s first female mayor and the years she served? Now take a dip out of the mainstream history: who was Edmonton’s first Indigenous politician, amateur athlete, Olympian?
So why do the Grads matter and why do we keep resurfacing their story? Is it just about their absolutely stunning record of sporting achievement or is there more?
We think there is more. We chose the Grads as our first pop-up exhibit because we believe their story shows us that the ebb and flow in historical public consciousness is in fact a very good thing. A story is never complete — there are always more chapters to add and different perspectives. Rediscovering a story allows for a new generation to critically assess significance and for new questions to emerge.
We certainly had lots of questions. We turned to our collection of Grad artifacts and began the journey:
- How did Edmontonians at the time embrace the Grads?
- Were the Grads an anomaly — how many women were playing amateur sports at the time?
- Where were the Black, Indigenous and racialized women playing sports — what were their experiences?
We haven’t answered all the questions but we hope that we piqued your interest to learn a bit more and to look for those Edmonton stories that make us the community that we are today.