Interview With Tricia Logan, CMHR Researcher
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is not yet open but there is a dedicated research team working tremendously hard to pull together content for the inaugural exhibits. Tricia Logan is one of our researchers and she has answered a few questions for us about her work.
Q: Can you tell us about any unique features of the gallery dedicated to Indigenous Peoples in the CMHR?
Tricia: The Indigenous gallery is the only gallery of the museum with a window as part of the gallery exhibit program. The window and terrace are both visible on the construction site if you’re coming from St. Boniface, heading west towards downtown. The views from the terrace and window are intended to be part of the exhibit.
Q: In what ways do the window and the terrace connect with content in the gallery?
Tricia: The ties between the view from the window/terrace and Aboriginal rights is so literal and so inter-connected, it’s an interesting piece to develop. The terrace wasn’t included in the original plans of the Museum but because of feedback we heard from our Elders group, the design was modified. The Indigenous gallery is a unique space since the window and door that leads to the terrace, as part of the exhibit, serve as meaningful and beautiful connections to Aboriginal rights and concepts that appear throughout the museum.
This is only one of the spaces where the stories of Aboriginal rights will be featured in the Museum and it provides you with stories and experiences that you will carry with you throughout the rest of the Museum and when you leave.
Q: Can you give an example?
Tricia: As an example, you should see the rights and historic connections out the window and be inspired, as a visitor, to cross the bridge to St. Boniface and explore the St. Boniface museum to learn more. There is a finite amount of space in the Museum to tell a seemingly infinite number of stories, especially of Aboriginal rights won and lost. You should see the museum connection to the ‘outdoor’ space - this terrace can be seen as an invitation to explore more of Winnipeg’s human rights history.
Q: This week is Aboriginal Awareness Week in Canada. What are your thoughts about this week?
Tricia: Aboriginal Awareness week is interesting, I have worked with Aboriginal communities and research for a long time and I’m always amazed by the response I get from people about that work. There is a really wide range of knowledge and also many misconceptions about Aboriginal people in Canada. It’s surprising how often stereotypes continue to be perpetuated as they pertain to Aboriginal people. Those stereotypes and misinformation aren’t challenged as much as they should be.
That’s part of what we do here; we’re trying to challenge the standard narrative about Aboriginal peoples, human rights and Canadian history. We heard from Canadians across the country that they want to see the stories of Aboriginal people in Canada in the Museum. If we can change some misconceptions while also providing space in the museum for the voice of Aboriginal people, I think Canadians will be surprised by what they see and what they think they already know about Aboriginal rights. Defining Aboriginal rights isn’t defining people by violations against them, but a much richer story.
Maybe that’s what the Aboriginal Awareness Week is about – looking at this much richer understanding and perhaps becoming ‘aware’ of new initiatives in Aboriginal rights or emerging stories.