In celebration of 150 years of Canada’s Confederation, THEMUSEUM opened an exhibit to shine light on the Indigenous and First Nations population in Canada.
Curated by Virginia Eichhorn and Andrea Jackman, A Cause for Celebration? First things First is an exhibit seeking to address the history of the First Nations in Canada, and create a public dialogue on truth and reconciliation. The exhibit opened March 4.
“The last 150 years of Canada’s history had a lot of darkness. Really deep, deep dark things happened, and we’re here to talk about that,” Eichhorn said. “What’s really important to this project too though was [to] acknowledge it, own it, take responsibility for it, and what do we want to do next?”
During the opening remarks, THEMUSEUM CEO David Marskell, MP Raj Saini, exhibitions co-ordinator Katelynn Dietrich, board member Linda Fabi, curators Eichhorn and Jackman, and program co-ordinator Kealin Lamb, and Woodland Cultural Centre director Amos Key spoke about the exhibit and the community.
“We weren’t here when it happened, but it still hurts because it’s part of our community history. And we need to learn from it, and we need to talk about the truth so that we can have exhibits like this, and teach ourselves about the three fantastic civilizations in this province,” said Key.
The opening remarks also included performances by Halifax Poet Laureate Rebecca Thomas and Kitchener singer-songwriter Elsa Jayne on their Indigeonous culture, as well as the St Paul’s University College Aboriginal Student Association drumming group, who performed before and during the opening remarks, as well as inside the exhibit.
The exhibit featured the works of Tim Mohan, Nyle Johnston, Anong Beam, Ann Beam, Daphne Odjig, and Eddy Cobiness. Each artist created works that called upon their teachings and understanding to create a dialogue on Indigenous history.
“As we created this exhibition, we have tried to work with a number of consultants, artists and curators who are more expert in this field,” Lamb said. “Although we are not experts, we believe it is important to shed light on our shared Canadian history by providing a stage for these artists to share their work.”
The centre of the exhibit featured the 23 prime ministers of Canada and their accomplishments for, and against, the Indigenous community.
“In addition to the four fabulous artists, we also had the opportunity to open this dialogue to look at our past 23 prime ministers,” Jackman said. “We took this as an opportunity to kind of broaden our horizons and open this uncomfortable discussion.”
Under each portrait of a prime minister is a document and a description of what they have done, or have not done, during their time in office.
The portraits and autographs of the Canadian prime ministers were loaned from the private collection of David Marskell.
THEMUSEUM will also be holding a dialogue series called First Things First: Indigenous Dialogues during the months of March and April.