Museums and Remembrace Day – 2023 Edition

Last summer ANSM embarked on the Unlocking Collections initiative, bringing together community members and museum workers to talk about how museums can better serve these communities. We thought we would spend the time talking about collections, but the conversations were so much more than that. During the Mi’kmaq sessions we heard that museums need to decolonize their practices, to build relationships and work with communities, and to tell more complete stories. One of the calls to action was to provide opportunities for museums to participate in cultural awareness training.

Since then, we’ve partnered with community leaders and knowledge keepers on cultural awareness training days; one event in each region. Without fail, at every one of these events, someone stood up and said, “what can my museum do?”

My Mom always said things happen in threes, and if you hear the same message from three different sources that you need to sit up and take notice. That is where this year’s Remembrance Day ponderings come from. On Sunday my daughter and I were at an early Remembrance Day service where an honour roll was read. I was struck by which families were included and which ones were not. On Monday during our Mi’kmaq Cultural Awareness day of learning, Theresa Meuse talked about how military service by Mi’kmaq individuals has been (mis)treated over the years – of recognition, benefits and support programs excluding these veterans. On Tuesday Devin and I met with Jeff Ward and the subject came up again – people who didn’t even have Canadian citizenship were fighting and dying for Canada, and they sometimes lost their status because of their military service.

Circling back to the question of what museums can do to further reconciliation and to build bridges and relationships with Mi’kmaq communities, this is a wonderful opportunity for action:

Map of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq First Nations

Veterans Affairs estimates that approximately 12,000 Indigenous people served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. How is your museum raising awareness about this contribution?

Museums have researched and developed profiles on their local veterans. Are Mi’kmaq veterans included?

There are thirteen Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia. How could you strengthen your museum’s relationship with your local community?

Wednesday was Indigenous Veterans Day. How did your museum honour this day?

Today is Remembrance Day. How are you acknowledging Mi’kma’ki and indigenous military service during your events and activities?