by Lori Beavis & Laura Peers
Hiawatha First Nation (HFN) and the Peterborough Museum & Archives (PMA) have been awarded $153,817 by the Department of Canadian Heritage Museum Assistance Program, through the Indigenous Heritage stream.
“To Honour and Respect: Gifts from Michi Saagiig Women to the Prince of Wales, 1860” will facilitate the loan of a group of quilled birch bark items from the Royal Collection Trust in England, in 2023. The items were gifts to HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, at Rice Lake in 1860 during his tour of Canada. Remarkably, each is signed by the woman who made it, enabling connections with descendants today.
The PMA will house the ancestral items while in Canada. HFN will lead associated programming, including workshops on quillwork, birch bark arts and Michi Saagiig language. Project leads Dr. Lori Beavis (a Hiawatha Nation citizen) and Dr. Laura Peers note that they will hire Indigenous youth as exhibition docents.
Chief Laurie Carr (HFN) said, “It is so exciting to have our Ancestors come back home to our First Nation, our Traditional Territory. All of these gifts given to the Prince in 1860 are interwoven from our past, to our present, and into our future. The spirit of our Ancestors lives in these gifts and it is such an overwhelming feeling to know that we will be able to meet them and have ceremony and bring together many generations.”