Indigenous Perspectives At The Museum

Friday, August 8, 2014

In honour of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, we would like to share some of the ways we include Indigenous perspectives at the Museum. 

As members of the Research and Curation team for Indigenous content, we seek out the voices of Indigenous peoples. In developing the Museum’s exhibits, we have gathered input from Elders and community members, as well as Indigenous experts, scholars, artists, curators and human rights experts. The Museum is working with a Standing Indigenous Advisory Council to ensure that a range of Indigenous perspectives inform the Museum’s work.

Indigenous content is found in each and every one of the Museum’s ten core galleries. Often these stories of Indigenous rights involve human rights violations and resistance. The Museum’s role is to share these stories and connect them to Canada’s and the rest of world’s historic and ongoing rights struggles. 

The Indigenous Perspectives gallery demonstrates traditional Indigenous-centred perspectives of rights, and their presence and importance in contemporary Canada. It also reflects the vitality and diversity of Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island, or what is now called North America. Our hope is that this gallery functions as both an educational space and a space of honour for the Indigenous peoples of these vast lands.

View of trees and a bridge on a sunny day from a stone terrace.
The outdoor terrace overlooking St. Boniface. Photo: Aaron Cohen / CMHR.

The Indigenous Perspectives gallery will include a 360 degree circular theatre. It will feature an original film produced by a consortium of three local companies — Media RendezVous, Frank Digital and Les Productions Rivard — and an Indigenous director, Caroline Monnet. The purpose of this film is to share and honour Indigenous teachings through oral narration: these teachings are alive and meant to be shared through oral storytelling. This theatre also converts into a storytelling and programming space. 

The Indigenous Perspectives gallery has the only outdoor terrace in all of the Museum galleries. This addition was made based on feedback from Elders. The outdoor terrace provides a ceremonial space and allows visitors to connect the concepts of Indigenous rights to the land which the Museum rests on. 

The gallery will also exhibit an original artwork developed by Anishinabe artist Rebecca Belmore and curator Lee-Ann Martin. By using Manitoba clay to create a beaded blanket, this artwork honours the original inhabitants of the land where the Museum sits. The beads also create a literal connection between Indigenous rights and the land. They were created at public workshops held in Winnipeg, where participants made approximately 14,000 hand-pressed beads! 

The Museum looks forward to continuing to share content on the rights of Indigenous peoples with all Canadians.  

Julia Peristerakis and Emily Grafton are the Museum’s Research and Curation team for Indigenous Content 

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