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Museum and Haisla Nation Council sign MOU

MOU further strengthens the existing relationship
Museum director Louise Avery, museum board chair Robin Rowland, HNC chief councillor Crystal Smith and community cultural coordinator Teresa Windsor at the signing of the MOU. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

The Haisla Nation’s rich and diverse culture will be more accessible to the community following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Haisla Nation Council and the Kitimat Museum and Archives.

The MOU, signed on November 9, not only gives the museum permission to use Haisla published material and a territorial map as the cultural sources in a new exhibition but also gives Haisla members further access to documents and images collected by the museum, dating as far back as 1969 and the opening of the museum.

The MOU further strengthens the existing relationship between the Haisla Nation and the museum, a relationship that stretches as far back as 1972 when museum curator Gisela Mendel documented the oolichan harvest at the sumgas on Kitimat River; and in 1984 when curator James Tirrul-Jones worked with the Kitamaat Village Council on an archaeological research project on the site.

Over many years, the museum has commissioned cultural and art pieces from master Haisla and Henaaksiala basket weavers and carvers including a canoe by master canoe builder Tom Nyce Sr.

The museum recently made 652 digital images available to the HNC for increased access by Haisla community members. Haisla Education Centre, Culture and Language Program archive assistant Ab Morrison-Hayward spent time at the museum in spring and summer scanning the Haisla Heritage Image Collection.

The MOU further strengthens the existing relationship, guaranteeing the Haisla Nation access to the image collection. Haisla Nation community cultural coordinator Teresa Windsor said the MOU created further opportunities for all communities to embrace history and plan for a united future.

“It gives me hope for Haisla to have a more thorough, collaborative and engaging future with our Kitimat neighbours,” said Windsor.

The MOU will also see the Haisla Nation represented at the entrance to any new museum facility.

Haisla artist Lyle Wilson will provide a substantial gift to the museum – a retrospective of his work over many years.

For current and future cooperation between the museum and HNC, Windsor has provided guidance to the museum by reviewing its First Nations program for grades 3 to 8.

Museum director Louise Avery said a positive relationship in this time of reconciliation is so important, working through obstacles and consulting along the way.

“Correct and significant cultural information will be installed on exhibition panels in the Haisla heritage display in the upstairs gallery,” said Avery.

The MOU allows for the sharing, printing and publishing of exhibits from the Haisla Photographic Image Collection and the use of images by the Haisla Nation Council for fundraising purposes.