Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre (BCM&CC) had reason to celebrate on Saturday, November 3rd, when it opened its newly revitalized and redesigned First Nations Gallery.
The Gallery has undergone a complete renovation that has been a collaboration with partners Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON), Bruce Power, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the County of Bruce.
Chris Irvine, the Museum’s Designer, created the new displays and designs, working with Archeologist Bill Fitzgerald and SON for technical historical background.
The Gallery tells the history of the First Nations Anishnaabwe people, features lifesized wild animals and hosts a state-of-the-art program area complete with touch-screen audio-visual components.
The celebration on Saturday was filled with music as the
women drummers of SON and youth jingle dancers opened the ceremonies emceed by former SON Chief, Vernon Roote.
Among the guest speakers were Chief Lester Anaquot of Saugeen First Nation, Martha Pedoniquotte of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, Mike Rencheck, President and CEO of Bruce Power, Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith and Lise Morton, Vice President Nuclear Waste Management OPG.
“This Gallery gives some context to our historical beginnings,” said Vernon Roote. “We have many more artifacts and, now, we have a place in this Museum where they can be stored.”
Saugeen Chief Lester Anaquot added that it is through the collaboration of the partners and the First Nations knowledge keepers that the gallery will be a living one. “This will continue to be a place where our past and future will be recognized. The young people will keep our Anishnaabek traditions alive.”
“This Gallery will also encourage our young artists,” said Martha Pedoniquotte of Nawash, “because now they will have a place to display their work.”
“Bruce County is very proud of this facility,” Mayor Mike Smith said, “and it is regionally significant. It is here to tell the story of our County and all of its people. I have worked with many Chiefs over the years and this Museum is a great opportunity to tell the story of our friendships that enable us to build the kind of communities that we want.”
Mike Rencheck of Bruce Power said that “… it isn’t often in life that you can contribute to a project that brings people together. Collaboration and fundamental partnerships build a stronger future where we as a community can appreciate the differences and the things we have in common and where we can go ahead together. Bruce Power is proud to be a sponsor of this and we look forward to the bright future that we have.”
Lise Morton of OPG echoed the sentiments that the new gallery tells an important story that more Canadians need to know. “We were not taught a lot about First Nations in school. They were the first stewards of the land and it’s important that we learn more and we will encourage friends, neighbours and employees to visit this facility.”
Cathy McGirr, BCM&CC Director added that it’s critically important to continue the relationships that have been building between the Museum and the First Nations people. “This is only the beginning of our collaboration in this place of knowledge. We look forward to many more years of working together.”
The Gallery opening leads into Treaty Recognition week and former SON Chief, Randall Kahgee, will be presenting and leading a dialogue on November 6th at 7:00 p.m. The event is free to the public, and will touch on few key points regarding the relevance and importance of treaties and how treaties relate to the process of Reconciliation.