Rebecca Chartrand, Indigenous educator,
Aboriginal Education Consultant Seem Oaks School Division
I am appalled that the Canadian Human Rights Museum, located here in Winnipeg at the Forks, will not acknowledge our experience of cultural genocide!
I have been holding my breath thinking that this would change over time. After attending a meeting at the museum it was confirmed by those working at the museum that they have not agreed to give us that status. I hope this changes before they open their doors to the public.
The Canadian Human Rights Museum is a worldwide teaching vehicle that aims to stand proud on Canadian soil. It will teach the world about many human rights atrocities that have been experienced by various nations around the world. And yet, here in our own homeland, as the First Peoples of this land our voice and experience is still being silenced. By denying us this status the Canadian Human Rights Museum will carry out the act of an oppressor by muffling our voice and minimizing our experience. How ironic!
Let’s put this into perspective, the Forks are the historical meeting place of our ancestors, the Anishinaabe, the Inninew and the Dakotas. Our people gathered here for generation before the arrival of Europeans. Sadly over time our people were pushed of this prime land onto reservations. We were intentionally pushed out of sight and out of mind to create space for the incoming settlers to prosper.
As an Indigenous educator working in the field of public education I have been employed to bring “Aboriginal” perspectives into the curriculum. Together with other educators we have been working to (re) write history to include our authentic voice. The curriculum over generations has a long history of telling our story for us, they have renamed us, renamed our lakes and rivers and all parts of this land and perpetuated many negatives stereotypes about us. And today the museum perpetuates this paternalistic relationship if they position themselves to tell our story. There were a number of people at the museum who clearly articulated the museum must recognize our experience of genocide. They are in a position of power and we once again have to rally ourselves together to be heard? Very upsetting!!
Thank you to the people who rallied together to get this out in the open. We need to blow this open and have them hear us.