RBC Champions Unique Aboriginal Training ProgramMay 1, 2014
The Museum is thrilled to welcome RBC as one of its newest partners, and sponsor of the Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices. The program provides specialized professional and technical training to First Nations, Métis and Inuit people from across Canada who would like to enhance their skills in various aspects of museum work.
Since 1993, 104 Aboriginal interns have participated in the program — the only museum-based program of its kind in Canada.
RBC’s contribution will total $225,000 over the next three years. The funding is provided through the RBC Foundation’s Emerging Artists Project, which supports a wide range of initiatives within the cultural sector. “We’re proud to support such a unique program,” says Shari Austin, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship, RBC, and Executive Director, RBC Foundation. “RBC is committed to nurturing emerging talent in artistic and cultural disciplines, and to supporting Aboriginal peoples and communities. It is wonderful to be able to do both with this gift.”
Interns in the program frequently work with artifacts from their own cultural backgrounds and communities, providing local context for Museum specialists. This makes the program a two-way street: the Museums offer training, and the interns bring new insights.
A critical part of the program’s success is the return of graduates to their communities, where they strengthen cultural institutions and mentor other staff.
Graduates are employed across the country, either back in their communities of origin or in urban institutions. “They direct museums, curate shows, direct programs, are librarians or collections managers, and work in universities and colleges,” says Jameson Brant, coordinator of the Aboriginal Training Program. “And they network, sharing contacts and expertise.” “I consider myself blessed to be part of this program,” says recent graduate Lisa Petawabano, archivist at the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute in northern Quebec. “I’ve worked with top specialists, and every one of my placements has been highly informative, especially in the conservation department.”
A National Network of Expertise
The eight-month program helps interns develop professional skills and training for Aboriginal cultural stewardship, through hands-on practicum assignments at the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum. Interns are trained in research, conservation, archives and collections management, exhibition design and interpretation, programming, public affairs, publishing, fundraising and marketing.
“When I tried to set out to work in the museum field 30 years ago, I hit all kinds of barriers,” says former intern Jameson Brant. “I had pretty much given up on a museum career until I heard about this program in 2005.” After graduating, Jameson was hired to manage the Aboriginal Training Program. “My passion is to never see an Aboriginal person become as discouraged as I was.”
Through the RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices, the Museum is proud to have worked with and maintained ties to over 40 Aboriginal nations from across the country. The RBC Aboriginal Training Program in Museum Practices also shares services and expertise with over 20 affiliates and stakeholders, including six First Nations agencies in the National Capital Region, four national museums, and three federal departments.