Nishga Girl to be presented in future Canadian Museum of HistoryJuly 10, 2013
For immediate release
Nishga Girl to be presented in future
Canadian Museum of History
Gatineau, Quebec, July 10, 2013 — Following a meeting with the donors of the Nishga Girl and representatives of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Canadian Museum of Civilization has determined that the Nishga Girl will have a place at the future Canadian Museum of History.
Commissioned in 1967, the Nishga Girl is one of more than 200 fishing vessels built by master Japanese-Canadian boat builder Judo “Jack” Tasaka. A traditional wooden gillnetter, it is over 10 metres long, 3 metres high, approximately 3 metres wide and weighs several tons.
The Nishga Girl was donated to the Museum in 1998 by Nisga’a Chief Harry Nyce and his wife, Deanna, who owned and operated the boat out of Prince Rupert for nearly thirty years. It was substantially restored by the Museum before becoming a key part of the West Coast Communities exhibit in the Canada Hall in 2002.
“In addition to bringing to life the role the salmon industry played in the development of the West Coast, the Nishga Girl also tells the moving story of how two communities helped each other during difficult episodes in our history,” says Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “After Monday’s meeting with the donors and the representatives of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, we have concluded that the story of the Nishga Girl will continue to be told in the new Canadian history hall but in the broader context of the histories of the Nisga’a and the Japanese-Canadian communities.”
“The Nishga Girl has memorialized an important period of Canadian history on the West Coast for Japanese-Canadians, the Nisga’a people and the Nyce family. More than 1,000 similar gillnet boats were seized by the government from Japanese-Canadian fishermen during the Second World War. Other gillnet boats were used by First Nations fishers for commercial and other purposes; often providing a means to fund political activities aimed at recognizing and protecting what are now constitutionally protected rights. The Nishga Girl has served my family well and we are pleased that she will be displayed in the Canadian Museum of History as permanent exhibit so that all Canadians and other visitors may continue to enjoy her,” says Chief Nyce. “Deanna and I are very pleased that the Nishga Girl will stay at the Museum and be part of the new Canadian history hall.”
The Nishga Girl has deep symbolic importance for Japanese-Canadians: more than 1,000 similar gillnet boats were seized by the government from Japanese-Canadian fishermen during the Second World War. At the time of the Nyce family’s donation, the Japanese-Canadian community raised money to help pay for shipping the Nishga Girl from the West Coast to the Museum.
“The NAJC is pleased that Nishga Girl will remain in the new Canadian Museum of History as a testament to the sacred bond between the Nisga’a First Nations and Japanese Canadians. We recognize the importance of engaging in community consultation; to exercise cultural sensitivity in the handling and display of artifacts in collections and to move toward an inclusive history. We acknowledge with appreciation the Nyce family; the many Canadians who voiced their support of Nishga Girl, and to Mr. Mark O’Neill, who personally took the time to reach out to us and ensure that the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties,” says Ken Noma, President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization will soon become the Canadian Museum of History. As part of this transition, the Museum is creating the largest, most comprehensive permanent exhibition on Canadian history ever developed. This new hall, to be ready in time for the 150th Anniversary of Confederation in 2017, will replace the current Canada Hall and Canadian Personalities Hall.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country. Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Museum is Canada’s largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.2 million visitors each year. The Museum of Civilization’s principal role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada for present and future generations, thereby contributing to the promotion and enhancement of Canadian identity.
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