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Collaborative Relations

Indigenous Peoples around the world designed, built and used the first canoes and kayaks. The canoe embodies Indigenous cultural memory – and is a living artifact with both historical and contemporary relevance. Across what is now known as Canada, activity around the canoe has strengthened Indigenous Peoples’ connections to their land, culture, language, and communities. As part of the exhibit design and development process, the museum will invite Indigenous Peoples to share their stories in their own voices as together, we work to preserve and share these artifacts in the collection.

In essence, this means sharing authority for the research, documentation and representation of Indigenous culture and looking to acknowledge the impacts of colonization. The exhibit development process supports the museum’s strategic plan, its Principles for Engaging and Consulting with FNMI Communities and its Indigenous Research Methodology developed for collaborative relations research. The new museum’s exhibit spaces will support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

In late 2018 the museum created a new position, Director of Indigenous Peoples’ Collaborative Relations, designed to work closely with staff, board, volunteers and to reach out and facilitate relationship building between The Canadian Canoe Museum and Indigenous communities across Canada. The position was filled by Robin Binèsi Cavanagh for 2019, and together with Curator Jeremy Ward, phase 1 of the Collaborative Relationship process (building relations) was successfully initiated.

“At this time in Canada, we are beginning a process for Truth and Reconciliation. Together, we need to learn, understand and acknowledge our shared history. We can’t do that without first knowing and understanding the impact of the canoe in Canada’s story, from those very early times when the first visitors came to our shores. The Canadian Canoe Museum provides us with an opportunity to learn, to feel, to smell, and to see the canoe in its diversity and endurance.”
VICTORIA GRANT, TEME-AUGAMA ANISHNABAI QWAY

Chair, Canadian Canoe Museum Board; CCM National Council Member; Past Chair, Community Foundations of Canada

2020 Update

While the Collaborative Relations in-person visits have been cancelled, this important work is being carried out remotely during the COVID restrictions in the interests of protecting vulnerable populations.

These relationships are profoundly important to the museum and, when exhibit development and design work resumes in earnest slated for 2021, the Canadian Canoe Museum is planning to work with in-community curators, recruited to ensure that the knowledge, voices and perspectives from their communities are properly reflected within the new exhibits.

Knowledge Clusters                                                                                           

The museum has identified knowledge clusters, individuals and communities – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous – in specific geographic regions with connections to canoes in the collection. These knowledge clusters, as they are established and continue to grow, will be the basis for building relationships and facilitating ongoing dialogue. This is one way to ensure that Indigenous Peoples are respectfully engaged throughout the concept, design and production phase of the museum’s exhibits and well into the future.

For further information, please contact:

Jeremy Ward, Curator
(705) 748-9153 X 207 / [email protected]

Design & Build News

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The new museum: A welcoming home for all our relations

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The following is an introductory blog written by Robin Binèsi Cavanagh, who has recently joined the museum in the new role of Director of Indigenous Peoples’ Collaborative Relations.  I did not understand the significance of my birthplace until my late twenties. I was...

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Nearly two decades ago, the fledgling Canadian Canoe Museum set out on a journey to develop 20,000 square feet of exhibits for nine, newly-created galleries within its renovated factory setting. Among the many remarkable people who were part of that team...

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