This week we have a new class: Museums and Storytelling!
If you missed it, you can listen to it here:
This week we heard from two women working at the St. Albert museum Musée Héritage Museum: Celina Loyer and Amy Samson.
Celina Loyer is the Aboriginal Programmer. We learn from her about why it is important to have Indigenous people on staff at museums. She also shares with us the role she has played in curating an exhibit in the Michel Band.
You can check out the Musée Héritage Museum’s Michel Band exhibition curated by members of the Michel Band Council and Celina Loyer. The history of this First Nation is deeply connected to the region. With family objects on loan from band members and pieces from the museum collection, they will tell their story of strength, family, injustice, challenge and perseverance.
For more on the Michel Band, you can listen to a CBC audio documentary called “Disbanded: Why my grandfather dissolved the Michel First Nation and renounced his Indian status”. You can also listen to Unreserved: How every member of an Alberta First Nation lost Indian Status, a story about the Michel Band’s enfranchisement and many members struggle Many Michel Band to get their status reinstated under Bill C-31, an amendment to the Indian Act which restored status to those who had it unfairly taken away through enfranchisement, marriage, or gender discrimination.
Celina speaks of how her mother fought for First Nation and Inuit women and their children to regain status through Bill C-31. For more information on Bill C-31 you can check out a collection of documents relating to the history and evolution of gender discrimination and Indian Status in Canada. It includes the legislative histories of Bill C-31 (debates and background material) and its predecessors and successors, committee reports, United Nations periodic reports and background information from a number of civil society organizations. It also includes links to domestic and international challenges to the Indian Act through the Canadian courts and United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The UofA has a short blog with additional resources about enfranchisement. Here is a link: https://ualbertalaw.typepad.com/faculty/2018/10/restrictions-on-rights-compulsory-enfranchisement.html
Amy Samson speaks of the need for museums to challenge the stories they have been telling, for them to begin amplifying other voices and truths. She reminds us that museums are a part of colonialism. That objects and stories were stolen and put on display. She brings up a recent account of this at the Glenbow Museum for the 1988 winter Olympic Games in Calgary. The exhibit was called Spirit Sings. Celina also spoke of how objects were stolen from her husband’s family for this exhibit. Here is an article about the protests.
Amy reminds us that just hiring an Indigenous staff member or offering up temporary space to an Indigenous communities is not enough. That there needs to be genuine partnership for a more truthful story. This is a great article highlighting systemic racism at the Royal Alberta Museum.
Finally, here is a great article, “Looking for Stories and unbroken Threads: Museum Artifacts as Women’s History and Cultural Legacy” by Sherry Farrell Racette.