Today marks a moment of significant reflection in history as Canada acknowledges its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Also known as Orange Shirt Day, we wear orange to acknowledge the experiences of residential school children such as Phyllis Webstad, who, on her first day at a residential school, had her grandmother’s gifted orange shirt taken from her. We wear orange as a symbol of the culture, freedom, and self-expression that was stripped away from not only Phyllis on that day, but also from many Indigenous children over generations. As a museum, we acknowledge this as a day to honour and remember those children lost to residential schools while committing to advance the reconciliation efforts and healing journeys of the survivors and their families.
The Alberta Aviation Museum respectfully acknowledges that the land the museum is situated on is Treaty 6 territory and a traditional meeting ground and home for many Indigenous peoples, including the Cree, Saulteaux, Blackfoot, Nakota Sioux and home of the Métis. We also acknowledge our Treaty obligations and are committed to living in accordance, with collaboration and friendship.
As a cultural institution it is our responsibility to address the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In addition to our land acknowledgement, it is critical that we take accountable community actions towards expanding our museum’s education, programming, and historical narrative to reflect the stories and experiences of our Indigenous communities. Over the past year, we have grown as an organization, but we know that our journey is far from over:
- We are committed to the development of our Indigenous Exhibits and Programming Strategy. Within the next 5 years, the museum is working to tell the whole truth about the role aviation and bush pilots played in the residential school system in Canada. More insight is being gained from the stories, logbooks and documents of pilots that were an integral part in the abduction of the Indigenous children brought to residential schools.
- We are continuing to engage with Indigenous-led organizations such as Pe Metawe Consulting, to assist us in navigating respectful dialogue which highlight Indigenous peoples and their history – including staff-wide workshops on Indigenous Allyship and Reconciliation.
- We are working with experts to identify culturally significant items in our collection that should be repatriated to their Indigenous community and their cultural stewards.
- We are continuing to incorporate truth and reconciliation conversations within a dialogic methodology throughout our museum exhibit and gallery signage and interpretive panels.
- Plans are in place to continue building relationships with Pe Metawe Consulting and amiskwaciy Academy to work to establish Indigenous and student-curated exhibitions at the museum.
If you wish to know more about the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, please visit: https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
We are all treaty people, therefore we encourage everyone to take this time to pause and reflect on how we as individuals, and as a nation, can learn, listen and educate ourselves on our shared history and its impact on Indigenous peoples.