Tracy Calogheros: Hodul'eh-a is our permanent gallery that will feature the work and the teachings of the Lheidli knowledge keepers over the centuries. Does that sound about right to you?
Chief Dominic Frederick: Yeah it's been an ongoing project for quite a few years. Working together and learning to get along with each other, so that our kids don't fall off the beaten track, so that they will continue to do this in the future.
Tracy: For sure, the museums have a responsibility and a role to reach out, I believe, and find ways to not just repatriate objects, but to really look at reclaiming knowledge and then sharing that knowledge in the broader community. If we don't understand our collective history, warts and all, we're not going to be able to stand side-by-side and build a future together.
Chief Frederick: I think the memorandum really means to us to be part of and working together and how we're gonna work together in the process of collection of all the items, and, for the museum, an artifact for the Lheidli T'enneh and how they're gonna be taken care of on our behalf. We want to be part of that, and that's part of the MOU, and how we're gonna work together.
Tracy: Museums don't traditionally have a wonderful relationship with First Nations and that's changing across the country, but we need to really formalize those changes and make sure that they're protected in perpetuity so that in a future iteration where it's no longer chief Frederick or myself at the helms of our two organizations, that any future organizational relationship will be shaped by this MOU, at a time when everyone has decided that we want to work together and really make sure that we're not only preserving that history, but sharing it and really talking about what happened and what those impacts look like.
Chief Frederick: The people outside can gain knowledge or an understanding of who we are and that's what it's about, understanding again and the knowledge of who Lheidli T'enneh are. Having the artifacts there so that people can understand that this is what we used to do, this is how it has been put together, and this is how we're moving ahead.
Tracy: One of the things for me that is really important about it is the traditional approach to a community heritage institution is to talk about settlers history and what happened post-contact, but once you start to understand that the First Peoples of Canada have been on the land forever, for millennia, and, in particular where you're talking about our situation, our museum is located in the heart of the traditional Lheidli T'enneh territory and we have lithic evidence going back over 10,000 years, so it has shifted the community's understanding of who settled there and why people settled there.
And really it doesn't matter whether your Lheidli T'enneh or a settler coming to the area, the area is attractive for the reasons that still exist today. It's a crossroads for rivers, it's a crossroads for transportation, it's got wonderful resources available to it.
I really do believe that the single most important way, and most effective way, to eliminate racism and hate and misunderstanding is education, and in a center like a museum, people are used to coming there with an open mind and to be educated so we can offer that space that everyone feels safe in.
It's an important project and the work that we're doing will have far-reaching impacts and it's wonderful to be a part of a project, and part of a friendship, that has this sort of ability to impact people's lives down the road. They talk about intergenerational trauma coming out of some of the horrific histories that we are working to reconcile at this moment. I'm excited to be part of that process of reconciliation and to be looking at intergenerational successes going forward.
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