HP Museum opens special wing

The new Truth and Reconciliation Gallery at the High Prairie and District Museum was officially opened Sept. 30. Cutting the ribbon are Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk, left, and Elder Doreen Willier.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

History was made at the High Prairie and District Museum on the most special of days.
Local Indigenous culture is highlighted in the Truth and Reconciliation Gallery that was officially opened Sept. 30, the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Alberta Museums Association executive director Jennifer Forsyth gives the local museum and historical society top marks for its commitment to promote Indigenous culture.
“As museums and museum professionals, we have an obligation and a duty to build relationships with our Indigenous communities and incorporate reconciliation and self-determination into everything we do,” Forsyth says.
“Through the work that has gone into this new gallery and this event, it is clear the High Prairie and District Museum has taken this to heart.”
She adds the exhibit is an example of how museums have an important role to play to bring communities together as one to walk forward.
“The High Prairie Museum has been part of our association for many years and we are proud to support this museum, museums across the province as they work with Indigenous community members and neighbours to commemorate our painful histories and build meaningful connections and partnerships for the future,” Forsyth says.
Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk commended the museum.
“I am glad that we are here together today to commemorate the tragic and painful history of Indian residential schools,” Panasiuk says.
“It is only through discovering the truth and having open discussions and dialogue that reconciliation can occur.”
On the other hand, he says he is saddened by the tragic history.
“It is hard to imagine the trauma that would have been faced by Indigenous children and families as children were taken away to residential schools with many never returning,” Panasiuk says.
Big Lakes County Acting Reeve Jim Zabolotniuk appreciates the museum for helping to share the history.
“The county is proud to support a gallery that is dedicated to people of the area,” says Zabolotniuk , who spoke for Reeve Robert Nygaard.
“Having a space like this is so important to our community,
“I hope residents and visitors will take the opportunity to visit our museum to learn more about the history of residential schools, listen to the stories of survivors and their families and reflect on how we can all play a part in the journey to reconciliation.”
Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey was invited but was unable to attend.
The special gallery is a work in progress and a permanent exhibit.
High Prairie Museum is open Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Truth and Reconciliation Gallery features a main exhibit that features three Indian residential schools in the High Prairie region: St. Bernard’s in Grouard, St. Peter’s north of Grouard and St. Bruno’s in Joussard. Standing, left-right, are Alberta Museums Association president Jennifer Forsyth, museum manager Darlene Adams, Elder Doreen Willier, Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk and Big Lakes County Acting Reeve Jim Zabolotniuk.
Metis clothing is featured in the Truth and Reconciliation Gallery. Left-right, are Lori St. Cyr and Hazel Vicklund, both of Peavine Metis Settlement.
Artifacts before Europeans arrived in Alberta is featured in the Truth and Reconciliation Gallery.
The story of Louis and Marguerite Hamelin is featured in the Truth and Reconciliation Gallery.
Another exhibit in the Truth and Reconciliation Gallery showcases animals pelts and equipment used to trap and hunt.

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