Inuit Artist, Contest of Strength, 1955, soapstone. Gift of John and Mary Robertson 1995 (38-017.09)
With Research Associate, Indigenous Art Sebastian De Line on staff, we are in formative stages of learning specific protocols from different Indigenous nations whose Ancestors (artworks or artefacts in Western terms) currently reside in the collection here. The Indigenous art collection includes works in various media by First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists from Turtle Island as well as Indigenous communities internationally, spanning ancient to present-day generations. These Indigenous arts and cultural ancestors traverse both the contemporary and historical art collections.
Kenojuak Ashevak, Birds and Foliage, 1970, stonecut on paper, printed by Lukta Qiatsuk. Gift of Mary Robertson, 1985 (28-123).
Deg Hit’an Artist, Basket, around 1895, birchbark, plant fibre and ink (M77-062)
“Agnes regularly receives requests to access the collections with an increased interest in engaging with Indigenous arts, and museum staff are learning how to field such requests in a Good Way,” says De Line. “With the intention of building deeply meaningful, long-term and healthy relationships with Indigenous communities and upon the advice of ongoing Indigenous advisory circles, the museum is currently developing Indigenous-led policies regarding access, care and rematriation/repatriation.”
In March, Agnes hosted the first consultation gathering with Indigenous elders and scholars. This laid the groundwork for organizing an ongoing advisory committee to help develop best practices. This crucial extension will inform future exhibiting, teaching, publishing, collecting and housing practices involving the Indigenous art collection.