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“I’m feeling like his name was Claude”

Halifax researchers put a human face on Nova Scotia’s forgotten history

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Courtesy of artist Talva Jacobson

Courtesy of artist Talva Jacobson

Talva Jacobson had some spare pottery equipment listed for sale in a local paper. When a woman asked to come see it, she quickly set up an appointment.

Within seconds of coming through the door of the studio, the buyer stopped and turned to her: “Do you know there’s a child’s spirit in this house?”

Jacobson shuddered, unable to speak. The half-finished facial reconstruction of the Acadian child was in a heavy wood crate just two rooms away.

The woman went on. “Yes. He’s very curious,” continued the visitor who explained she was a medium, as well as a potter. “He died of TB or cholera or something. I’m feeling like his name was Claude and he had a family that was very sad at his passing.”

Jacobson said nothing and sold woman the pottery equipment. After helping load it into the car, she climbed the stairs to her studio and lifted the box to reveal the reconstruction.

“It was eerie,” she recalls. “I’m a non-believer, but it changed the way I handled the remains. Until that point I’d thought about the exercise in very precise scientific terms. It was about accurate interpretation of measurements and light. After that I was much more considerate of the remains, much more inspired by the humanity of the work I was doing.”

For Jacobson, that was the day Claude was born… or reborn.

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