New museum intern setting her focus on reconciliation

Duane Hicks

How do local indigenous people want their stories to be told?
That’s the question the new community engagement co-ordinator at the Fort Frances Museum will be looking to answer.
Red Deer, Alta. native Laura Gosse, who began her new internship here March 5, will be spending the next year working with community partners, including First Nation communities, elders, and educators, to determine how to best tell indigenous history.
This work will include determining what format this should take, how best to market to and engage the wider community, and what outcomes to expect.
The ongoing national discussion about reconciliation makes this important work especially poignant, Gosse said.
“A lot of provinces are doing a lot of inclusion and reconciliation things,” she noted.
“In Alberta, for instance, we identify we are on Treaty #6 land, and it’s becoming very important to acknowledge that in every aspect of what we do.”
With input from stakeholders, Gosse also will develop an exhibit and related programming that will create a clearer understanding of the past, with the idea of finding a better way forward together toward reconciliation.
The travelling exhibit, “We Were Taught Differently: The Residential School Experience,” will open on the main floor at the local museum in May.
On loan from the Lake of the Woods Museum in Kenora, it tells the stories of the six residential schools in the Treaty #3 area.
But a second related exhibit upstairs will offer a focused look at the school that operated as Ste. Marguerite’s here from 1906 until 1962, and then as the Fort Frances Indian Residential School until it closed in 1974.
This exhibit will be on display from May through August.
Gosse just finished up her B.Sc. in archaeology and geography at University of Lethbridge in December. Prior to her work on her archaeology degree, she got a degree in psychology from the University of Calgary.
“I chose to do this because I have always really loved history,” she noted.
“I have worked as a field archaeologist while I’ve been in school and while I do love excavating, I also love teaching people and being able to interact with artifacts–and not just digging them up out of the ground,” she added.
“And coming home clean is nice, too,” she laughed.
While she loves being outdoors, Gosse equally loves to share history and get people engaged.
“If I can get someone to see something in a slightly different way that they didn’t consider before, I think I’ve done my job well,” she reasoned.
While she’s only been here a short time, Gosse’s impression of the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I love how friendly everyone is,” she remarked. “I am really enjoying so far the small-town vibe.
“I love how everyone is open and willing and helpful,” Gosse added. “And I really am feeling I’m part of the community only being here for a few days.
“So I am really enjoying that aspect of it.”
Gosse said she’s looking forward to meeting more area residents and welcomed everyone to drop by the museum.
“Feel free to come visit me,” she urged. “I’d love to get to know everyone in the community.
“I’d love to learn more about, and just be part of, the community here.”

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