Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Modelling What Works

Over the last several years, Fort Whoop Up National Historic Site has been active in engaging the Blackfoot community, particularly the Blood and the Peigan tribes that are close to Lethbridge, to develop a mutually beneficial relationship based on traditional practices.

Today, the Blackfoot Confederacy presence has returned full circle: society members and Elders hold ceremonies at the Fort; full trading has resumed with traditional and ceremonial supplies in stock at fair prices at the museum store; Blackfoot staff and board members are an integral part of our staffing and governance; and Elders are regularly engaged in providing interpretation to visitors in a Blackfoot lodge setting.

During this time, we had not considered our actions as an act of social responsibility but simply something that needed to be done. It was at an AMA workshop last year in High River that helped me recognize what we had done and what other museums across the province were doing or planning around social responsibility. When we were selected for the Robert R. Janes Award for Social Responsibility, it caused a great amount of reflection as how it all came together.

As the inaugural recipient of the award, it is now incumbent upon us to share our experience as a learning opportunity for others. The reflection is over, and a plan is in place for a workshop to be held at Fort Whoop Up on April 24, 2014. There we intend to offer our insight into our journey of social responsibility. It is hoped that participants will be able to use the Blackfoot / Fort Whoop Up experience, and extrapolate our learning as tools for your own social responsibility initiatives.

This workshop will focus on four key pillars of social responsibility. The day will end with a Pipe Ceremony, which not only introduces participants to key elements of Blackfoot traditionalism, but will enforce those key pillars of what we believe to be Social Responsibility.

Submitted by

Doran Degenstein
Executive Director
Fort Whoop Up National Historic Site, Lethbridge

This article was originally published in the Alberta Museums Association's Spring 2014 issue of INFOrm.

To register for the “Modelling What Works” Workshop, please visit www.museums.ab.ca