Presenters at our MAS Conference 2022 - Community Co-Curation: Carrying On
Keynote: Sharanjit Sandhra
Co-Curation as Co-Conspirator Work: Decolonizing the Museum
This presentation, by highlighting the work of the Sikh Heritage Museum, a National Historic Site of Canada in Abbotsford, BC, will provide a framework on how to make co-curation an ongoing and needed practice in the museum sector as a movement towards anti-racism and meaningful equity, diversity, inclusion. Using specific co-curated exhibits, along with visitor responses, the presentation will provide practical tools to the difficult work of diversifying the museum sector.
Dr. Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra (Sharn) is Coordinator of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, co-curator of exhibits at the Sikh Heritage Museum, located in the National Historic Site Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, BC, and a sessional faculty in the Department of History at UFV. Sharn’s PhD looks at the affective experiences of racialized museum visitors through a critical race theory lens. She’s a passionate activist, building bridges between community and academia through museum work. She is a past member of the BC Museums Association, and currently a Director with the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre - Museum of Migration.
Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS): Rhonda Rosenberg, Yordanos Tesfamariam
Community Engagement and Ethnocultural Minorities: Building Meaningful Relationships
Museums form an important component of a community’s memory, presenting objects and experiences that, in effect, tell a community’s story to itself and the rest of the world. However, museums do not always reflect the diversity of their communities: collections often promote dominant narratives that attract visitors who see themselves positively reflected. Museum engagement of underrepresented communities requires intercultural competence, understanding of barriers to access, and commitment to equitably reflect our diverse populations.
How can cultural and heritage organizations engage community members to tell the whole story? This presentation by the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan will explore cultural awareness, community engagement, and relationship-building, and will serve as an introduction to an interactive virtual workshop for museum and gallery staff and volunteers later in June.
Rhonda Rosenberg, the Executive Director of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS) has been working with the multicultural community in Saskatchewan since 1995 years in a variety of roles. Prior to joining MCoS, she was the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Association for Multicultural Education, Youth Leadership Coordinator at the United Way of Regina, and a teacher/counsellor at Cornwall Alternative School. Before moving to Regina, Rhonda taught at Reindeer Lake School in Southend, Saskatchewan. She brings to MCoS expertise and experience in multiculturalism, anti-racism, education, youth leadership, experiential education, cross-cultural education, non-profit management, and policy governance. Rhonda has worked intensively with youth and adults to explore racism and discrimination and find opportunities for positive change.
Yordanos Tesfamariam is the Education Coordinator at the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS). Yordanos has made Treaty 4 Territory (Regina) her home since her immigration in 1998 to Turtle Island (Canada) from her home county of Eritrea. She has immersed herself in education, work and volunteerism locally and internationally. Yordanos joined the MCoS team in 2016. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge working with settlement and ethnocultural organizations. Yordanos coordinates all MCoS education services for member and external organizations. She works with MCoS trained facilitators across Saskatchewan to provide education sessions.
Panel: Curating Diversity: 50 Years of Immigration in Canada
Moderator: Michael Afenfia
Panelists: Deniz Ünsal, Tzu-I Chung
This panel session will discuss cultural representation and how museums across Canada have curated the history and heritage of the diverse people who call Canada home. Panelists will touch on measures and strategies adopted by museums to ensure inclusion in the last 50 years and hypothesize on ways locals and newcomers will feel seen and included in the sourcing and curation of art, artifacts and stories preserved in thematic and non-thematic museums.
Michael Afenfia, is a Cultural Bridging Facilitator based in Saskatchewan, Canada. He is the
author of five critically acclaimed novels, "When the Moon Caught Fire", "A Street Called Lonely",
"Don’t Die on Wednesday", "The Mechanics of Yenagoa" and "Rain Can Never Know". His sixth novel,
"Leave my Bones in Saskatoon" will be released in the fall of 2022. His academic background is in
law and business administration. Before relocating to Canada in the summer of 2019, he
worked as Speechwriter to the governor of his home state, Bayelsa in Nigeria. Michael has also
worked in banking, real estate and communications.
Deniz Ünsal, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist with a research and teaching focus on the
communication of arts and heritage through stories, images, objects and spaces. She has a PhD
in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University in New York City and a career in post-
secondary teaching and the museum and heritage field. Prior to moving to Victoria, British
Columbia, Deniz taught arts and cultural management in the Faculty of Communication in
Istanbul Bilgi University. Currently she is an assistant professor at the School of Communication
and Culture at Royal Roads University.
Dr. Tzu-I Chung, is a cultural and social historian, specializing in the study of transnational
migration within the context of historical, cultural and economic exchange between North
America and Asia-Pacific. As a curator of history at the Royal BC Museum & Archives since 2011,
Dr. Chung has focused on working closely with BC’s diverse communities on their history,
cultural heritage and global connections. She has developed, facilitated, and led cross-sectoral,
award-winning community heritage and legacy projects. Her research has informed numerous
exhibitions, curriculum development, and public and academic publications on the topics of
anti-racism, cross-cultural community histories, and critical heritage studies. She serves as a
peer reviewer for academic journals and a juror for public history prizes and grants, and
currently a member of the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.
Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Stephanie Danyluk, Western Development Museum (WDM) Elizabeth Scott
Call to Action #67 in Practice
This panel session will discuss the implementation of the TRC and UNDRIP in museums, beginning with an update on the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) national work on TRC 67 and forthcoming deliverables and provide an understanding of their national engagement work and feedback on reconciliation in museums.
The WDM and their Indigenous partners will discuss on their joint work on inclusion and representation of Indigenous communities within their museum, including the development of a forthcoming exhibit, co-created with the Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
Stephanie M. Danyluk’s work seeks to centre and support Indigenous self-determination in heritage and history, including through research, engagement, and public history interpretation. As a white settler, she is grateful for having spent over ten years conducting history and policy research for and learning from the Whitecap Dakota First Nation community. Currently, she is the Reconciliation Manager with the Canadian Museums Association. She has an MA in History from the University of Saskatchewan.
Elizabeth A. Scott completed her PhD at the University of Saskatchewan in 2014. She is the
Curator of the Western Development Museum (WDM) and Adjunct Professor in the Department
of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Scott’s research and exhibition work at the WDM
focuses on Saskatchewan histories that explore the province’s diversity, promote Reconciliation
and showcase innovation. She is honoured to lead the stewardship of the WDM artifact
collection for future generations to learn from and enjoy.
Reconsidering Museums: Articulating the Value of Museums to Our Communities - Caroline Loewen, Lauren Wheeler
What do Canadians see as the value of museums for them, their communities, and for Canada? Reconsidering Museums, a three-year national project, sets out to answer this question. Through a rearticulation of the value of museums and a rebrand of the sector, this project aims to support museums with the tools and language necessary to better connect with and serve their communities, deepening their relationships, and therefore their relevance, to the public.
With a focus on being data driven, this session will explore how the museum of the future can respond to demographic, cultural, and generational shifts; bridge the gap between internal and public perception; and address societal issues while maintaining their trustworthiness.
Caroline Loewen is the Project Lead for the Reconsidering Museums project. Caroline is a curator, writer, and museum worker. She has over 10 years’ experience working in museums in collections, programming, and curatorial. Prior to joining the AMA, she was most recently Curator at Lougheed House, where she focused on community participation and storytelling through exhibits. She is passionate about helping museums become more inclusive, accessible, and engaging spaces, where a diversity of voices and perspectives are included and valued.
Lauren Wheeler began working in museums as a summer student at the Canmore Museum in 2002. She holds a Master of Arts in Public History from Carleton University and worked in a variety of museums and cultural institutions before beginning with the Alberta Museums Association in 2013. Prior to becoming Strategic Services Director in 2021, she administered the Recognized Museum Program, a standards-based accreditation program for museums in Alberta.