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Great Lakes Research Alliance
for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures

June 2020 Newsletter

Aanii!  She:kon!  Yiheh!  Welcome!  Bienvenue!

We hope that you will enjoy this issue of GRASAC's monthly newsletter for June, Indigenous History Month in Canada. During these times of "social distancing" and isolation it is valuable to stay in touch, celebrate good news, request assistance, and be in solidarity. You are invited to share your GRASAC news here - see instructions at the end of this issue.

In this newsletter you will find:
  • Student Summer Work on the GKS, by Haley Bryant
  • Niagara Falls Museums launch exhibition to kick off National Indigenous History Month, & Four Directions Indigenous Leader Speaker Series, by Clark Bernat
  • Save the Evidence and the Great Canadian Giving Challenge, by Carley Gallant-Jenkins
  • The Woodland Cultural Centre is pleased to announce the appointment of Janis Monture as the Executive Director, by Layla Black
  • Mikinaak Migwans announced as Curator, Indigenous Contemporary Art at the Art Museum at University of Toronto
  • Anya Montiel announced as Curator of American and Native American Women’s Art and Craft at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • OMA Award of Excellence Nomination Period Extended
  • Invitation to Contribute to Future GRASAC Newsletters
Student Summer Work on the GKS
by Haley Bryant

This summer, GRASAC welcomes five new Graduate Student Research Assistants through the University of Toronto’s Work Study program: Chantelle Perreault, Olivia White, CJ Pentland, Alesha Grummett-Roesch, and Rachel Barber-Pin. The students will be contributing to the ongoing work of re-developing the GKS database by supplementing existing item records, adding new item records, and researching best practices around issues of copyright and data organization. Chantelle and Olivia comprise the team researching and implementing a Controlled Vocabulary for new and existing item records, which will make searching in the GKS and locating items by keyword much easier. Alesha, CJ, and Rachel will be assisting Prof. Laura Peers to define a new set of copyright and permissions guidelines for the images and records in the GKS, as well as ingesting a new set of records from the Ethnologisches Museum, and potentially others as time permits. The team is guided by GRASAC members Prof. Heidi Bohaker, Prof. Cara Krmpotich, Prof. Laura Peers, PhD student in History Mia McKie, and PhD Student in Information Haley Bryant. Additionally, this team is in the process of re-establishing the GRASAC public website, currently hosted at Carleton University, at U of T and will be enlisting the help of a Graduate Student Research Assistant to migrate the content from the old site to a new, similar version. This offers an excellent opportunity for us to update information about our Steering Committee members, current and past Research Assistants, and project updates. Keep an eye out!
Empathic Traditions virtual exhibit website.
Niagara Falls Museums launch exhibition to kick off National Indigenous History Month
by Clark Bernat

The Niagara Falls Museums teamed up with Landscape of Nations 360⁰ to create an exciting new virtual exhibition that explores the Museums’ collections of Indigenous artefacts as curated through the perspective of Indigenous curators and their allies.

Entitled Empathic Traditions: Niagara's Indigenous Legacy, the exhibition features objects selected from the Indigenous collections of the Niagara Falls History Museum that reveal the presence of Indigenous peoples, their art and history in the region, extending back hundreds of generations up to the present day. Vivid imagery of the artifacts combined with interpretive information help us understand what life was like for those who first arrived.
Within the Indigenous collections of Niagara Falls History Museum is found evidence dating back to the earliest human inhabitation of the region. From the Paleoindian Period reaching back 13,000 years, through the Archaic and Woodland Periods, to European contact and modern times, Indigenous peoples have always been an essential part of Niagara. The team at LON 360⁰ examined this collection and developed a thrilling new exhibition that highlights the Indigenous footprint in Niagara's history.
"Developing an exhibit based upon the Indigenous history of this region has long been an aspiration of Museum leadership," said Clark Bernat, Culture and Museums Manager for the City of Niagara Falls. "We are therefore delighted that, with the assistance of the LON 360° team, we've been able to produce this high-quality online educational resource for the benefit of Niagara's K-12 schools and the general public."
"Crucial to our curatorial approach was to highlight and share how Indigenous peoples have engaged with and interpreted the environment of the Niagara Region," said Tim Johnson, LON 360° project director. "When we reference Empathic Traditions, we're talking about the repetitive gratitude that is expressed through Indigenous teachings that are intended to stimulate empathic responses that nourish both emotional and intellectual development."

Expressed within the exhibit, these considerations provide insights into cultural value systems that reinforce acknowledgement and reciprocity to promote environmental stewardship, conservation, and ecological restoration; all important considerations for sustaining stewardship of the region's natural features.

The exhibition includes more than 60 objects curated by some of the most knowledgeable experts on Indigenous culture, history, and archaeology in Southern Ontario, brought to life through the spectacular photography of award-winning photographer Mark Zelinski. The addition of video segments featuring Indigenous Curator Rick Hill, Archaeology Curator Rob MacDonald, Community Curator Dave Labbe, and Indigenous Arts Advisor Jolene Rickard will be added later in the year when the pandemic quarantine is lifted, and filming can resume.

The Niagara Falls History Museum will host this exhibition on its website. Explore starting May 31, 2020.
View exhibit here
Dish with One Mic logo.
Four Directions Indigenous Leader Speaker Series
by Clark Bernat

Join us in our interactive webinar as we take a journey with Sean Vanderklis and Karl Dockstader, hosts of Niagara's Indigenous podcast One Dish One Mic radio talk show on AM 610 CKTB. You will have the opportunity to engage in great conversation and laughs with Sean and Karl as they bring their unique urban Indigenous perspective to the evening.

Time: Jun 4, 2020 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Register here
(Image from Carley Gallant-Jenkins)
Save the Evidence and the Great Canadian Giving Challenge
by Carley Gallant-Jenkins

We have a wonderful opportunity to win $20,000 this June and we need your help!

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is a National public contest open to benefit any participating registered Canadian charity. During the month of June every $1 donated to a registered charity via automatically enters the charity to win an additional $20,000 donation. The grand prize draw takes place on July 1st and one lucky charity will receive this special grand prize of $20,000.

Your contribution would allow us to continue working towards the completion of the Save the Evidence restoration project as well as continuing our important work with Mohawk Institute Residential School Survivors, ensuring each survivor's history and stories are preserved.

We plan to use the money raised to travel throughout our support communities to collect and record stories of survivors and generational survivors. Protecting verbal histories such as these is integral to what we do at the Save the Evidence campaign.

The vision of the Save the Evidence campaign is to open the Mohawk Institute Residential School to the public as a national heritage site that protects and presents this pivotal chapter in the history of the Canadian nation.  We hope the refurbished building will live on as a “site of conscience” for all future generations and your contribution helps make this a reality.

Donate Now
Janis Monture (image from the Woodland Cultural Centre).
The Woodland Cultural Centre is pleased to announce the appointment of Janis Monture as the Executive Director
by Layla Black

Janis Monture brings extensive professional expertise and cultural experience  to Woodland Cultural Centre at a critical time in its history. Janis is from Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan.  Janis was most recently the Director of Tourism and Cultural Initiatives for the Six of the Grand River Development Corporation where she accomplished significant growth and awareness related to the rich tourism assets in the region. Janis served as Executive Director of the Woodland Cultural Centre from 2003-2017  In her capacity at the Centre, Janis was a steering committee member for the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures and a committee member for the Arts & Culture Advisory Council for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan American Games.  During her tenure, Janis accomplished many critical partnerships with institutions large and small such as the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian, the Royal Ontario Museum, and Chiefswood National Historic Site.  Janis was instrumental in undertaking the consultation process that has led to the restoration of the Mohawk Institute Residential School site.

As a result of Janis’ leadership and expertise, she was asked to undertake a secondment to Harbourfront Centre as the Guest Artistic Director of Planet IndigenUS in 2009 and 2015.  These international, multidisciplinary, Indigenous festivals brought great awareness to Indigenous contemporary artists globally and explored important ideas and issues impacting Indigenous communities world-wide.

Janis attended the University of Western Ontario where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History, followed by a Museum Studies diploma from Algonquin College.  Janis continues to volunteer in her community at Six Nations and in Brantford with various organizations. She is a current Board Member of Brant Community Foundation, and the current President of the Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.

Her passion and vision for preserving and promoting Indigenous culture is infectious, and her exceptional leadership skills are going to be a vital asset to the growth of the Woodland Cultural Centre as it reaches its 50th anniversary.

“I’m excited to be back at Woodland Cultural Centre as we embark on some exciting new initiatives.  Despite our current climate, it is increasingly important that Woodland Cultural Centre continues to serve our support communities, artists, and patrons at this time.  I look forward to welcoming back our audiences once it is safe to do so.  It is a great honour to be back.” – Janis Monture

Mikinaak Migwans (image from The Art Museum at University of Toronto).
Mikinaak Migwans announced as Curator, Indigenous Contemporary Art, at The Art Museum at University of Toronto

Congratulations to Mikinaak Migwans on their new role as Curator of Indigenous Contemporary Art at The Art Museum at University of Toronto!
Read the full story here
Anya Montiel (image from the Smithsonian American Art Museum).
Anya Montiel announced as Curator of American and Native American Women’s Art and Craft

Congratulations to Anya Montiel, who was recently announced as curator of American and Native American women’s art and craft, a joint position between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian.
Read the full story here

Ontario Museums Association Award of Excellence Nomination Period Extended

Do you know individuals or projects that have made outstanding contributions to museum excellence in Ontario?  Consider nominating them for an Ontario Museums Association Award of Excellence!  The nomination deadline has been extended to June 19th, 2020.


More information here
Invitation to contribute to future GRASAC newsletters

We are accepting submissions for inclusion in GRASAC’s monthly newsletter. Any submissions related to GRASAC and the interests of members are encouraged! Submission suggestions include GRASAC member news, community happenings and events, exhibition reviews and announcements, calls for papers from relevant journals or conferences, grant opportunities and programs, GKS object highlights and stories, and bios of GRASAC-associated Elders, members, and RAs.

As many GRASAC members are challenged by the effects of COVID-19, sharing stories of success, struggle, and adaptation, requests for assistance, activities to do from home, and any stories particularly relevant to the moment are encouraged.

Your submission can be in text, image, or video form, or in the form of links to other accessible platforms. Submission deadlines are the 25th day of each month. Submissions received on or before the 25th will be sent out on the 1st day of the following month.  Please contact Bradley Clements (GRASAC research assistant) at for further information and to submit materials.
View previous newsletters here
Miigwech, nia:wen, thank you, merci: we hope you have enjoyed these stories!
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GRASAC · 140 St. George St. · Toronto, On M5S 3G6 · Canada

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