Thirty Years and Counting: The Indigenous Internship ProgramAugust 2, 2023
Marking its 30th anniversary this year, the Indigenous Internship Program has an unparalleled record when it comes to giving participants opportunities to enhance their museological skills. Since 1993, the program has welcomed interns from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across the country and has celebrated the accomplishments of more than 100 graduates.
The Indigenous Internship Program was the first program of its kind in Canada. For 30 years, the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum have given interns (three or four people per year) the opportunity to participate in a unique, eight-month in-person internship. Interns work with staff at the Museums, exploring areas as wide-ranging as conservation, exhibition development, collection management, and communications. The structure of the program changed to a hybrid model in 2021 because of the pandemic.
Skylar-James Wall of Mniwakan Oyate (Spirit Lake Nation) graduated in 2020 and is now employed with the Museums as a repatriation research assistant. “I was always interested in heritage, and a work co-op at Royal Saskatchewan Museum in high school set me on this path,” he said. He also noted that the connections made during his internship enhanced his professional network, describing the mentors and curators he worked with as “libraries of knowledge.” Equally important were the interns he worked with: “We were all from different parts of the country and learning from one another can help pave the way to a better future.”
Many graduates have taken their new skills back to their home communities, where they have developed new initiatives and expanded existing ones. Others have gone on to become role models and advocates in the regional, national and international cultural sectors.
“Indigenous interns have made many indelible and enduring contributions to our Museums,” said Caroline Dromaguet, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History. “The knowledge and insights they’ve shared have greatly enriched everything we do, from our handling of sacred materials to exhibitions, content and programming.”
As the program looks ahead to a new year, the future is bright. Working with Indigenous interns has not only helped train a new cohort of museum professionals, but also continues to be profoundly rewarding for Museum staff, enhancing and informing everything we do.
For more information on how you can support the Indigenous Internship Program, please contact Linda Kincaid, Director, Major Gifts and Campaigns, at firstname.lastname@example.org.