Cree keyboards, snowshoe templates help Manitoba Museum earn Governor General's award

​Community stories, locally made artifacts, and keyboards programmed for Swampy Cree and Oji-Cree​ are just a few pieces of a Manitoba Museum heritage project that earned national recognition this week.

Education project sought to bring history to life for students in Norway House, Garden Hill First Nations

Specially programmed keyboards for Swampy Cree and Oji-Cree were elements of the Spirit Lines project kits provided to students in Norway House and Garden Hill First Nations. (Manitoba Museum)

​Community stories, locally-made artifacts, and keyboards programmed for Swampy Cree and Oji-Cree​ are just a few pieces of a Manitoba Museum heritage project that earned national recognition this week.

The goal of the museum's Spirit Lines project was to bring community history to life for students in Manitoba's Norway House and Garden Hill First Nations, using special kits made in collaboration with local leaders to teach the kids.

On Wednesday, the project was awarded the Governor General's History Alive! award for excellence in the presentation, preservation, and interpretation of Canadian history.

Maureen Matthews, curator of cultural anthropology with the museum, and David Swanson of the Frontier School Division accepted the award from Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, centre, presented the award to the Manitoba Museum's curator of cultural anthropology, Dr. Maureen Matthews, and David Swanson of the Frontier School Division. (Manitoba Museum)

The museum said in a news release on Thursday that it was "extremely honoured" by the award.

"Oral histories were collected and recorded by prominent figures from each community so students could hear the stories from people they knew and respected," the museum said.

"The kits also featured many replica artifacts — [from] snowshoes-making templates to beaded watch pockets — made by local artisans, to deliver hands-on learning."

Kids were also provided with specially programmed keyboards so they could type and share files in Swampy Cree and Oji-Cree to help preserve the languages.