The following article from the Calgary Herald of May 27, 2018 caught our eye in that our Association is playing a substantial role in the revamping of Fort Calgary.
A major overhaul is coming to Fort Calgary that’s expected to transform the site of the city’s birthplace and help tell its origin story from the perspective of Indigenous nations, which officials say was neglected for far too long.
The 3,500-square-metre museum will expand by 1,500 square metres, as part of renovations that are expected to last until 2020. Once completed, it will include space for five new galleries, three of which will be permanent.
One exhibit will tell the classic story of Fort Calgary, where in 1875 the North West Mounted Police built a fort at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. But unlike in the past, the museum will also include a Gallery of Nations to reflect stories of each of the Treaty 7 Indigenous groups. Another fixed gallery will tell evolving stories of southern Alberta, something that hasn’t previously been represented.
The other two galleries will feature rotating exhibits to keep things fresh, with more information still to come.
“It’s not just about creating a nice new building. The biggest driver for this is that we really have shifted our mandate in terms of how we’re going to focus our efforts around the telling of history and the telling of stories,” said Fort Calgary president and CEO Linda McLean.
“That really marks a new chapter in this organization’s history. Because of its era and the context in which it was developed, a lot of material and the exhibits that are currently at Fort Calgary are a very Eurocentric perspective on the history of this region, and particularly of the site that we occupy.”
The estimated cost of the project is $10.4 million, which is being funded by all three levels of government.
It’s the third phase of a decade-long capital improvement initiative at Fort Calgary, which began with the restoration of Deane House, Hunt House and the Métis cabin on the east side of the property. A public art piece, titled Markings, which traces the perimeter of the original 1875 fort, was later added to the west side.
Renovations to the museum, which sees about 80,000 visitors each year, will include an expanded learning centre and additional event space for arts and culture, public education and speakers events.
A request for proposals for design firms interested in bringing the project to life closed last week and the interview process is expected to begin in the coming days. The successful design firm should be in place by the beginning of June, and McLean said they hope to break ground by 2019, with an opening date roughly 12 months later.
“It’s certainly a big physical project,” said McLean. “We’re also going to be completely gutting and renovating the existing building so that it will be unrecognizable.”
She said they have worked for several years in consultation with a large Indigenous advisory council that included representatives from the Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda Nations, as well as the Métis Nation of Alberta.
Each group will curate its own exhibit so as to best represent their own stories to the public.
Fort Calgary has also worked closely with the RCMP Veterans’ Association to develop new content surrounding the fight for gender and ethnicity-based inclusion within the organization.
“We’re acutely aware that what we currently have in place is dated and it’s not inclusive and it doesn’t represent a full story,” McLean said.
“Our goal here really is to respond to the call to action that arose from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. We have a special obligation, a special duty to be inclusive and to respect and represent truth, as opposed to perhaps a less-inclusive version of reality that’s been prevalent in Canada since Confederation.
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous, positive change.”