Museum of history timeline draws fire before feedback tour
Some history purposely left out of feedback website timeline to encourage input, museum says
The Museum of Civilization wants the public to weigh in on what a history museum should contain, but the website it created to collect feedback is raising some eyebrows.
The museum is getting ready to change its name, and plans to present history more in terms of milestones than as vignettes of culture through time.
Museum staff are heading out on a nine-city tour to set up kiosks in libraries and malls, and to hold roundtables.
The first was held at the museum Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jocelyn Formsma, a Cree woman, said she was upset at seeing photos of white men dominating the My History Museum webpage.
"I looked at this page and immediately I didn't really see a whole lot of diverse representation … of Canadian history. I saw there were I think about 15 faces or so on the site. I think there were about four or five women on there, one indigenous person, and the rest of them seemed be sort of middle-aged white guys. I didn't see any people of colour, I didn't see anybody with disabilities, and I just think that's so disappointing when I know that there's such a fuller, more diverse history of Canada that could be represented, and people to represent those communities."
Museum left out some history on purpose, vice-president says
Formsma also saw omissions in the website's timeline of Canada's history.
"Oh, it starts at 1608 with Samuel Champlain? So frustrating. That's a perfect example right there, that even before they're starting, in their minds the Canadian story starts with, quote unquote, discovery. And there's no acknowledgement that there were vast lands full of indigenous people, indigenous nations, that had their own cultures, their own governance, their own stories."
Chantal Schryer, the museum's vice-president of public affairs, said the museum purposely left out important chunks of history so that people will weigh in with what milestones matter to them.
She said the timeline will grow as it receives suggestions.
"Already we've heard from Canadians … and now we're adding to the timeline," Schryer said. "So over the next few days, you will see key moments in Canadian history before 1608 appearing. And the same throughout the timeline. The same with personalities."
Formsma said the proof will be what ends up in the museum by 2017.