Melissa Sinfield is attending Saint Paul University in Ottawa working on her Masters in Conflict Studies. She has her Bachelor of Social Science, Honours in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa.

Melissa Sinfield

Melissa Sinfield is attending Saint Paul University in Ottawa working on her Masters in Conflict Studies. She has her Bachelor of Social Science, Honours in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa. She is active in social justice and academia. Her thesis explores the topic of disability in labour communities of rural Canada. She is organizing a new Public Interest Research Group in Ottawa, while working for the Mauril-Bélanger Social Innovation Workshop. She is also collaborating on a separate research project entitled “Transforming Food Systems Imaginaries: Commoning Land and Labour in Canada”.

Her submission was a set of drawings based off photographs belonging to a farming family from Lombardy, a rural region near Smiths Falls ON. They represent a cross-generational knowledge transfer across 4-5 generations as they engaged in agricultural production. The drawings illustrate some the many challenges, adversities, and adaptive strategies rural labourers have had to face as dynamics shift, industries change, and major historical events occur.


Family

Drawing 1 shows the family posed in front of and on a wagon full of hay. The six family members featured are: father (top left), uncle (top right), son (bottom left in front of the horse), mother (middle left), young daughter (middle right), and the elder daughter (front left).


Employee

Drawing 2 is an image of an employee at the local dairy as he delivers milk by horse and buggy during the winter season. He is the grandson of the family in drawing 1 and began work at a very young age following his father’s death while in service during one of the World Wars.


farmer

Drawing 3 is an image of a dairy farmer as he teaches the next generation how to farm by taking his nephew for a tractor ride in the back ‘seat’. The photo was taken in 1990. The man is the son of the dairy worker in drawing 2 and the great grandson of the family in drawing 1. The boy is the grandson of the man in drawing 2 and the great-great-great grandson of the family in drawing 1. Both are currently involved in agricultural work.


Girl

Drawing 4 is an image take in the 1990s of a young girl from Toronto visiting a farm for the first time and learning to feed a cow. This image represents the significance of cross-generational teachings but also cultural knowledge sharing by inviting visitors to learn about agricultural practices.