Haylan Jackson talks about fourth year

A day in the life

Haylan Jackson talks about fourth year


It was really important to come here to learn about myself, my country, and where I'm from, rather than learning it back home. Now I want to go back to Manitoba, go into education, and teach Canadian history and Canadian literature.

Fascinated with otherness

Until she came to Dalhousie, Haylan Jackson never reflected much on the importance of her hometown of Inglis, Manitoba. Back home, all she wanted was a change. When her older sisters went west to university, she went east to experience something completely different.

“I came out here because I was fascinated with this otherness,” she says, referring to Nova Scotia’s distinct cultural identity. But when she got here, the east awoke in her a deep curiosity about her western identity. Suddenly, she stood out.

“When I came out here, I was different. I was the other,” says the student from a prairie town of 150 who’s graduating with a double major in History and Canadian Studies.

One day she found herself in a class looking at photos of the Inglis grain elevators projected on the wall. Her town boasts the largest standing row of grain elevators in Canada, she says; they’re a national historic site.

“There were my grain elevators up on the screen,” she says with a firm sense of ownership. The ones she grew up with—the ones she gave guided tours in—had followed her to the academic world.

“I was completely awestruck by that. From there, I realized that the West was cool, and Canada was cool, and we could be studied in an academic way.”

Her professors encouraged her western perspective. In her last year, she finally wrote about her grain elevators. It was a passionate exploration of the effect their powerful symbolic presence has had on the western imagination. This summer, her research will be published in Dalhousie’s first Canadian Studies journal.

She’s returning to big sky country after graduation with plans to teach Canadian history and literature in a high school. “I want to give students like me that same opportunity to say, ‘oh right, we’re important’,” she says, proudly.