Thunder Bay

A museum in northwestern Ontario receives national recognition

The Atikokan Centennial Museum has received a prestigious provincial award, earlier this month, from the Ontario Museum Association.

The Atikokan Centennial Museum received the Excellence in Community Engagement award

Atikokan Centennial Museum curator, Lori Fenton says this regalia holds so much significance to the community. (Jeff Walters / CBC)

Its not very often that a small town in northwestern Ontario receives the national recognition they deserve. But for the Atikokan Centennial Museum, that recognition came to them earlier this month from the Ontario Museum Association.

"It's called the Excellence in Community Engagement," curator Lori Fenton said.

"It's recognizing the work that's done in the field."

The small-town museum was recently given an award for their exhibit titled, Revealing the Regalia: Honouring the Anishinaabe Culture through Dance. 
Revealing the Regalia is a exhibit at the Atikokan Centennial Museum that has received national recognition from the Ontario Museum Association. (Jeff Walters / CBC)

"It's based on the experience of Jaret Veran," Fention explained, "he was chosen to represent his community at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver."

Fenton said Veran, whose from Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, along with "300 youths from across Canada who are Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous," were invited to dance in their regalia at the opening ceremony by the First Nations of the west coast.

Made entirely out of deer skin, Fenton said the regalia is more than just a representation of the community as it also showcases the people living in Atikokan as well as Veran's family.

"His father made the breastplate, much of the embroidery was done by his mother and other members of the community. There's a painting on the back, showing a bear claw which is by a local artist name Linda Fogg," Fenton continued.
The regalia is made entirely out of deer skin and represents the community of Atikokan and the culture. (Jeff Walters / CBC)

She said the initiative to put the regalia on display at the museum was originally Veran's idea, as "he didn't think it was right to stick it in the back of his closet and never wear it again." 

Today the regalia is now hanging proudly in a unique display, made by Veran's brother, at the Atikokan Centennial Museum.

"It really is a beautiful show case. We couldn't have done better if we had made it ourselves," Fenton said.

"For instance, there's a mirror at the back which helps you see and appreciate the artwork at the back of the regalia."

Fenton said having the regalia displayed at the museum is "a representative of part of [Atikokan's] population" and the prestigious award helps others to not only know of it, but to learn about it as well.

The awards were presented in Kingston, Ont. on Oct 12.