STF donation to Royal Saskatchewan Museum signals partnership

Sask Bulletin
October 16, 2019

Museum

Regina Public Schools President Jeff Perry (right) had a chance to check out this remarkable depiction of the Treaty 4 negotiations as drafted by Chief Paskwa in 1874. Also pictured are (from left) Michelle Hunter, Sarah Schafer and Theresa Walter.

REGINA–Recently the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation presented a cheque for $10,000 to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum to formalize a partnership that is intended to support the Traditional Knowledge Keepers Program.

Prior to the actual cheque presentation, Michelle Hunter, executive director of the Friends of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, spoke enthusiastically about what an ideal collaboration this is between the two partners.

“It’s just an amazing fit and I can’t believe the synergies that happened to create this partnership. We are both focused on education and this is key in terms of what we can offer in the future, and it will help us fulfil our mission, particularly the education component. We are just so delighted with this partnership,” she said.

The Traditional Knowledge Keepers Program is an extension of the Elder in Residence Program, which fits into the museum’s commitment to further the education aspect of the truth and reconciliation process to the visiting public.

According to Theresa Walter, First Nations program specialist at the RSM, the contribution from the STF will be able to aid the museum in its efforts of passing on the Indigenous cultural knowledge that dates back to the opening of the First Nations Gallery 25 years ago.

“It will help us to continue on our journey of learning, and when you come to the museum you can see how far we’ve come and get a sense of where we want to go,” Walter offered.

Undoubtedly, one of the most awe-inspiring exhibits in the gallery is the one-of-a-kind original two-panel graphite and ledger depiction of the Treaty 4 negotiations as drafted by Chief Paskwa in 1874.

While the pictograph was initially intended to go to Queen Victoria, it never reached its destination and suffice to say it had a rather circuitous route before winding up here.

Federation President Patrick Maze, in his remarks at the cheque presentation, affirmed that “the Federation believes strongly in the excellence of public education, and this is for the common good of students and teachers. It is critical for our children to learn about the cultural sharing that we can see here.

“Hopefully this can be the first step for some so that everyone can be part of truth and reconciliation, and as a result, we can have a better Canada moving forward by embracing the cultural differences we have. This is an investment in culture and language and it is something we can all embrace together.”

Sarah Schafer, the visitor experience supervisor at the museum, is confident this partnership (and the contribution) will enhance the education component, citing a strong upsurge of interest in Orange Shirt Day as one tangible example.

She noted how teachers have their choice of whether they want to bring students on their own or have a member of the museum staff involved in workshops and tours.

“We always try to be mindful of ongoing learning that we can provide, and for our students especially to learn more about truth and reconciliation. They can become our teachers for their parents in some cases. We’re able to offer a safe place for learning to occur, and we have a rich collection of displays for people to consider.”

Museum Director Peter Menzies stressed the important role the museum has in terms of providing the public with access to the history and knowledge of Indigenous peoples.

In terms of a drawing card to the museum, the opening of the T.rex Discovery Centre to showcase the discovery of Scotty, the T. Rex unearthed in Eastend, Saskatchewan in 1991, is also proving to be a big hit.

Hunter noted that these different displays, particularly the Indigenous-related exhibits and accompanying historical information, have served as a helpful resource for the increasing number of newcomers to the province from elsewhere in the world in recent years.

Schafer, meanwhile, pointed out that public feedback is vital for museum planning “and that public component is very important in terms of seeing if we are on the right track.”

Certainly if you were to ask Hunter, she would give a resounding thumbs-up. She shared how recently she and colleagues toured the museum as if they were just visitors.“In my view, you can’t come in here and not get what the museum is about. It’s a pretty special place, and the stories are brought to life and it becomes very personal. Every day I walk around here it becomes more special to me,” she gushed.

If you want to know more or to make arrangements for a school tour, you can check out www.royalsaskmuseum.ca.