Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre is looking at bringing back several Indigenous events and activities this year.
The museum’s director and curator Karen Bachmann presented an update to the city’s Indigenous Advisory Committee on Indigenous projects and partnerships the museum has been working on.
“I was very happy to go because I thought it’s very nice to tell people, ‘We’re working on these things and we’re trying to do better,’” Bachmann said in an interview Thursday morning. “We’re trying to see what else we could be doing within the community and I think working with the Indigenous committee from the city is a good start for us to continue on what we’re doing.”
Recently, the museum has been partnering with the Indigenous Niska Arts Co-operative and the Mennonite Central Committee to provide space — the museum’s gift shop — for Indigenous artisans and artists to sell their work.
Before the pandemic, the museum held an Indigenous artist fair in July and November. Bachmann said the museum hopes to bring it back this November.
The museum also did some workshops through Misiway Milopemahtesewin Community Health Centre, particularly with children suffering from trauma.
With the Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA), the museum held storytelling, drum making and ribbon skirt-making workshops.
For Treaty Recognition Week, marked in the first week of November, the museum will be looking at bringing back activities.
“We’re looking at whatever opportunities we can bring forward. There’s lots of discussion about putting a teepee in the front yard again, and doing some indoor, outdoor things, lots of information component,” Bachmann said at the meeting. “We’re starting on Monday with that and we’ll see where that goes.”
Another big project the museum is working on is bringing artifacts from Yellow Falls, located near Smooth Rock Falls. The pieces are expected to be transferred to the museum by mid-winter or early spring.
“We’re looking at a ceremony as well to bring the pieces to our site,” Bachmann said. “And we’re working on how we deal with pieces themselves. We don’t want it to be just, ‘Here we are, housing them and nobody can see them’. I look at it as we’re just the caretakers. And that’s access to whoever wants to do research on pieces or wants pieces for whatever reason, we’ll help with an opportunity to work on that. My big dream is to have a space where we could put that out for display and then tell the story around it.”
The museum staff has been attending workshops to see how Indigenous collections are being dealt with on a national level and how to do that on a local level.
In February 2020, the museum launched a permanent exhibit about Timmins' history called Where We Stand: Stories of the Land.
“We melded everything together so that each storyline and theme has a number of people who are represented. We’ve done it in terms of representing Indigenous culture going back 5,000 years in the community,” Bachmann said. Within the exhibition space, visitors can test out the Omushkego Cree app developed through the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Centre.
Coun. Kristin Murray commended the museum for its work.
“It’s greatly appreciated,” she said.
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com