Inventory of the collection of the Cultural Education Centre at Kitigan Zibi, from April 29 to May 3, 2013. Some 1500 objects were inventoried with training adapted to the needs of members of the community.
The purpose of an inventory is to identify, record, and organise elements constituting a community’s heritage. For a museum or cultural centre, the inventory is the basic tool for acquiring information about the collection. The cultural education centre at Kitigan Zibi is relatively new, and its collection will continue to grow. At some point, it will be necessary to better organise its procedures and objects already in the centre’s possession need to be identified before new ones are acquired.
A big surprise was in store for the inventorying team: the centre already had more than 3000 objects, documents, and works, either as part of its own collections or in the form of loans from members of the community! A great deal of work needed to be done.
Helping, training, and adaptation
Sylvia Morin was responsible for the inventorying, accompanied by a team from Kitigan Zibi. Sandra Decontie, Brenda Odjick, Samantha Tenasco, Autumn Tenasco and Rene Tenasco identified objects, measured and photographed them, and contributed their own knowledge towards documenting them. As they were undertaking this work, they were also being trained in professional museum practices (assigning accession numbers, producing photographic records, etc.). During the process, they proposed ways of adapting their practice to the reality of the cultural centre and to the cultural needs of the community.
The inventory was carried out in partnership with the Musée amérindien in Mashteuiatsh and a team from the Université de Montréal. Louise Siméon, archivist and conservator at the Musée amérindien in Mashteuiatsh, has expansive experience in cataloguing museum objects and in working in small- and medium-sized museums, including how to accomplish important work with a minimum of resources. Throughout the inventory, she shared her knowledge in adapting museum tools to the needs of First Nation’s communities.
Research assistants Julie Côté and Claire Nigay also contributed to this week’s work, which was coordinated by Julian Whittam and directed by Élise Dubuc, assisted by Corina MacDonald, who is responsible for the project’s web site. These research assistants took care of the technical aspects of the inventory, such as the computers and the cameras, and helped with training and the inventorying process.
Elders from Kitigan Zibi were also present for these activities. They acted as observers and advisors to Anita and Élise. The elders were Brigite Mac Dougall, Victoria Whiteduck, Rose Mac Dougall, and Peter Decontie.
Documenting the collections continues. More objects need to be identified. Sylvia and other members of the community are working on completing the information for each object.