COLLABORATIVE PROJECT ON INDIGENOUS CRAFT IN MANITOBA TO RECEIVE THE
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S HISTORY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MUSEUMS
WINNIPEG, November 14, 2023 –mámawihitowin | Ganaagishkwadaadiwin | Asenbli | Rencontre | Gathering: Indigenous Beadwork, Embroidery and Quillwork, a collaboration between Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library and Ross House Museum, is receiving national recognition for transcending traditional museum practices and fostering community, inclusion, and reconciliation.
The Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums recognizes significant achievement in the historical field and encourages standards of excellence specifically in the presentation, preservation and interpretation of national, regional or local history. The award will be presented by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, at an upcoming ceremony.
The project, led by Eric Napier Strong, Andrea Reichert, and Margaret Firlotte, was an ambitious initiative to uncover, research, exhibit, and celebrate pre-1900 Indigenous beadwork, embroidery, and quillwork artifacts held by museums throughout the province of Manitoba.
A team of Indigenous artists, historians, and Elders researched more than 100 pieces from the participating museums’ collections, identifying traditional designs, motifs, techniques, and materials and connecting the works to specific communities, nations, and oral traditions. Hands-on workshops and interactive programming allowed the public to engage with the pieces and explore traditional Indigenous arts, like beading and embroidery. An exhibit held in the spring of 2023 at the C2 Centre for Craft in Winnipeg showcased some of the historical pieces, alongside works from contemporary Indigenous artists.
“We wanted to explore how museums – institutions built on colonial structures – can engage in genuine reconciliation activities,” says Andrea Reichert on behalf of the project team. “For the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library & Ross House Museum it meant gathering people with artworks liberated from vaults so that they could hear each other’s stories. It meant stepping beyond a traditional exhibit to provide new kinds of access to communities across our province.”
“We are so incredibly impressed with Gathering’s collaborative approach to curation,” says Janis Kahentóktha Monture, Executive Director and CEO of the Canadian Museums Association. “This project is a unique combination of museums, craft and Indigenous representation and we are excited to bring these essential parts of cultural heritage to a prominent national stage.”
This award is presented by the Canadian Museums Association, in partnership with Canada’s National History Society, with the support of Ecclesiastical Insurance Ltd.
“Ecclesiastical Insurance is once again proud to support the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Museums, as its purpose aligns with our commitment to preserve and protect Canada’s unique history and cultures,” says David Huebel, President of Ecclesiastical Insurance. “Congratulations to the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, and Ross House Museum, on your collaborative work to showcase and celebrate Indigenous beadwork, embroidery, and quillwork. This award celebrates Indigenous resiliency and builds awareness of the beauty and power of these artforms.”
About the Governor General’s History Awards
The Governor General’s History Awards recognize excellence in five categories: Teaching, Museums, Scholarly Research, Community Programming, and Popular Media. The awards are Canada’s top history honours and involve the leading agencies of Canada’s history and heritage community. Each award category is administered by the presenting organization and has its own jury, selection process, and prize structure. The Governor General’s History Awards are administered by Canada’s National History Society, with the support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Power Corporation of Canada.
About Canada’s History Society
Canada’s History Society is a national charitable organization that seeks to encourage Canadians to engage more deeply with their country’s past. We share the stories behind the history through our magazines, Canada’s History and Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids, digitally at CanadasHistory.ca, as well as through our education and award programs, including the Governor General’s History Awards. We believe all Canadians should see themselves reflected in our publications and programs.
About the Canadian Museums Association
The Canadian Museum Association (CMA) is the voice for Canada’s vibrant museum community, from small, volunteer-driven organizations to cherished national institutions, and for the millions of Canadians whose lives are enriched by museums. The CMA advocates for public policies and support, builds skills across the profession, and establishes and inspires connections to strengthen and sustain museums.