Keynote Speakers

The BC Museums Association is pleased to introduce Museum Hack as one of our 2019 Conference keynotes! Museum Hack is an organization that encourages museums to re-think how they approach programming and audience development. They challenge the status quo, breaking down and remixing the facets of museum culture to invite new and existing audiences to rediscover cultural institutions as fascinating places full of stories, ideas, and inspiration. Museum Hack works with cultural institutions to create new content, strengthen existing programs, build social media prowess, reach new audiences, and inspire interest. By re-imagining interactivity, engagement, tours, and events, they can demonstrate how to ensure visitors connect with collections and with each other, all while having fun!

More on the Museum Hack presenter


Caroline Wolfson is the City Lead for the Washington, DC branch of Museum Hack. She leads tours at the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery as well as manages the Museum Hack tour guides here in the Nation’s Capital. She works with museums on audience development as well as with students and professionals alike on their communication, presentation and verbal feedback skills. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University.

Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams

Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams is Lil’watul from Mount Currie. She is professor emerita from the University of Victoria where she was Indigenous Education director and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous knowledge and learning. Dr. Williams will bring to Conference 2019 her inspiring story and wealth of knowledge about documenting and revitalizing Indigenous languages and Indigenous knowledges in British Columbia, Canada and beyond, as a language speaker, advocate and academic. We are honoured that she will be sharing her experiences with us for this year’s conference!


Josh Seymour

Joshua Seymour was born and raised in Lheidli t’enneh. As the father of a son, Joshua wants to leave a legacy of understanding Lheidli t’enneh’s history, as well remove many of the barriers he has faced learning of his people for future generations. Joshua’s goal in life is to ensure lheidli has her rightful spot in history. Joshua goal is to make Lheidli t’enneh’s culture is accessible and understood by all who reside within the Lheidli t’enneh territory.


Additional presenters will be announced as they are confirmed!


Lucy Bell, Nika Collison, Jisgang, Lou-ann Neel – The Indigenous Repatriation Handbook 101

This year, the Royal BC Museum published an Indigenous Repatriation Handbook as a part of the deliverables from the Repatriation provincial support. The three Indigenous authors will share their stories about the handbook and their repatriation and reconciliation experiences. The speakers will talk about the new repatriation direction at the RBCM that includes new policy, procedures and concepts of repatriation. The speakers will also give helpful tips to help small communities and museums work towards collaborative, respectful repatriation and walk participants through the Indigenous Repatriation Handbook.

More about Lucy, Nika, and Lou-ann

Lucy Bell, Sdaahl K’awaas is the Head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department at the Royal BC Museum. Lucy comes from the Haida Nation. Lucy is passionate about repatriation and language revitalization and has worked in these fields for her Haida Nation for over two decades. Lucy has a B.A. from UBC, a M.A. from UVIC and a Cultural Resource Management Diploma from UVIC. Lucy is also a distinguished Alumni from UVIC and a recipient of the BC Community Achievement Award for her work in repatriation.



Lou-ann Neel is the Repatriation Specialist at the Royal BC Museum. She is from the Mamalilikulla and Kwagiulth people of the Kwakwaka’wakw. Lou-ann is a practising visual artist, working in textiles, jewelry, illustration, painting and digital design. Lou-ann has been an active volunteer in the Indigenous arts community for the past 40 years, specializing in copyright and intellectual property rights of Indigenous artists, their families, communities and nations. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University, a Diploma in Public Sector Management from UVIC and a Certificate in the Administration of Aboriginal Governments.


Nika Collison, Jisgang is the Executive Director of the Haida Gwaii Museum. Active in her community, she sits on the Council of the Haida Nation Xaayd kil/Haida Language Committee, the Haida Repatriation Committee, and she is a teacher/dancer/choreographer and singer/drummer in the Hltaaxuulang Gud ad K’aaju Dance Group. She is the previous co-chair for the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society. Nika completed her Financial Management Diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the Cultural Resource Management Program from the University of Victoria.

Tammy Bradford – Planning for Plan B

You are a staff-of-one or almost-one. You’re the one who takes care of the million and one day-to-day details. You know more about every aspect of your museum than anyone else; you’ve built up a vast knowledge about your collections, facilities, community, schedules, finances, volunteers, membership, policies, practices, etc etc etc. You’ve got it all under control, except for just one thing: what happens if you are suddenly unable to do it? Who takes over, and how will they know what needs to be done? Tammy’s Presentation will talk about the details of emergency succession planning. Participants will go through the questions your unsuspecting successor is likely to have, discuss the things you’re going to wish you could tell them, and brainstorm ways to make sure they can get that information without you.

More about Tammy

Twenty-plus year veteran manager of the Creston Museum; widely recognised for her knowledge of, and passion for, local history; creator of many exhibits, designer of many interpretive programs, and author of many books and articles bringing local history to life. In addition to my growing notoriety as the crazy museum lady, I am also a figure skater and skating coach, an avid though easily sidetracked birdwatcher, as frequent a traveler as my grouchy bank account allows, and the world’s greatest crazy aunt. 


Luc Desmarais – Project Management Fundamentals for Small Museums: How to get the most out of your projects

It is widely known that small museum professionals wear many hats and take on numerous roles in this eclectic field of work. One of the most common roles is that of the project manager. Every exhibit is a mini project unto itself, and larger more complex projects might come about through grant funding or donations. No matter how they come about, many of us are regularly faced with managing projects that can span a few months, or even a few years in length. What are the fundamentals of project management that can help us complete projects more successfully? This workshop will take participants through the essentials of the project manager’s toolkit and lay the groundwork for getting projects defined, planned, organized, and evaluated from beginning to end.

More about Luc

Luc Desmarais is the Administrative Coordinator at the UBC Residential School History & Dialogue Centre, and has worked as a museum professional in BC for over 10 years, specializing in collection management, exhibition development, and project management. His experience and knowledge on the subject of deaccessioning has led him to develop workshops and best practice procedures for the BCMA, sharing that knowledge across the province. He has a settler background, originally from Ontario, but has lived on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory for 10 years.



Eric Holdijk and Dr. Tyler McCreary – Creating Shared Histories: A Community Consultation Case Study

Currently there is much discussion of collaboration, consultation, and dialogue between museums and Indigenous peoples. But how does a research team or community museum put these ideas into practice? For the past three years, Eric and Tyler have been working in partnership with the Witsuwit’en community and local municipal government. In this presentation, we will discuss the community consultation process that we have used in researching and writing a book on Witsuwit’en-settler relations, entitled Shared Histories.

More about Eric and Tyler

Eric Holdijk worked as a Research Assistant to Dr. McCreary on the Shared Histories project from 2016-2018. He graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Victoria in 2016.






Dr. Tyler McCreary is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University. His research examines how indigenous-settler relations configure the politics of land, labour, and community in Canada. He is the author of Shared Histories and sits on the advisory committee adapting the book into a museum exhibit.


Mandy Kilsby, Lynnette Candy, Alicia Evans – Building Indigenous Interpretation in Barkerville: What We’ve Learned so Far

Barkerville is in the shared territory of seven nations: Lhtako, Nazko, Lhoosk’uz, Ulkatcho, ?Esdilagh, Xatśūll, Simpcw, and Lheidli T’enneh. Indigenous people were active participants in the Cariboo Gold Rush that built Barkerville, and ample evidence can be found in newspapers, letters, journals and poetry and oral history. This history has not always been adequately portrayed. Today, Barkerville is working to ensure Indigenous Peoples’ history and culture is maintained and respected by adhering to the principles of truth and reconciliation and engaging in partnerships with Indigenous communities to deepen understandings and further build upon our current presentations. Join us for a three-person panel discussion where we talk about what we have learned in the process of setting up the new Indigenous Interpretation program that launched in Barkerville this year, how we overcame our many challenges, and how we hope to improve and expand this program in the future.  

More about Mandy, Lynnette, and Alicia

Mandy Kilsby likes her history local. She grew up in an antique and history loving Cariboo family, so it’s no wonder she wound up in where she did. She has been around Barkerville for a lot longer than she’d care to admit, and is excited to be working as the Curator these days. When she’s not busy looking after Barkerville she volunteers her time running the Wells Museum in Wells.





Lynnette’s love of museums started at home where she was surrounded by antiques of every kind. Having a conservator for a dad she was immersed in the care and presentation of artifacts and loves the stories they hold. She took this love and became an historic interpreter and has been sharing the history of Barkerville for almost 30 years. Now she is thrilled to help bring more of this history to life with her new role as Barkerville’s Indigenous Liaison Officer.





Alicia Evans was born and raised in Quesnel BC. A member of Lhtako Dene Nation, she has worked in the Lhtako administration office for three years as the employment coordinator and has been almost one year with Barkerville Historic Town and Park as the Indigenous Liaison Officer although I have a background in Culinary Arts.




David Jensen, Tracy Calogheros, and Peter Ord – The Future is Eco Literate

Will eco-literacy be our salvation? How can museums pave the way for a future that addresses global change through new thinking?

The world is changing fast. And many people, young and old, anticipate that our capitalist democracy is threatened as we face climate change, increasing economic inequality and growing social unrest. There is a mounting belief that adults have screwed up the world, and they need to fix the problems they have created — or step aside to let the young take over with an approach that is rooted in eco-consciousness or eco-literacy. Simply put, eco-literacy refers to our ability to understand natural systems and apply these understandings to the design and organization of our human communities.

Museums can highlight these new ecological-minded paradigms by drawing on multi-disciplinary approaches that form the basis of their practice. By weaving together approaches in arts, sciences and knowledge, or more specifically indigenous knowledge, museums can contribute to a rounded, holistic discussion as to how different communities, and the province in general, can become more eco-literate in order to deal with the effects of climate change.

This workshop will feature institutional examples on how multi-disciplinary programs are woven together to promote environmental issues in museum practice.  A facilitated group workshop will follow to ask participants to explore their own practices and share how they can contribute to a provincial museum strategy to deal with important environmental issues, like the effects that climate change have on BC communities. In addition, the workshop will focus on exploring indigenous knowledge and discover new partnership models that can expand their program reach. At the conclusion, a draft strategy on how museums can tackle climate change will be proposed.


More about David and Peter

David Jensen is a BCMA and CMA award winning museum design consultant. He is the Principle of D, Jensen & Associates Ltd.
For the last 40 years , He has chosen to design exhibits featuring science, history, art, nature and 1st. Nations themes (as well as exploring the relationships between these themes). Mr. Jensen brings heart felt love & appreciation of the world around him and a wish to share this appreciation with others, through his work. He understands the importance of people, team work, coordination and good project management. He currently serves on the BCMA Awards Committee, and, is Co Chair of The Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice.




Peter Ord is Executive Director of Bateman Foundation and Bateman Gallery of Nature.
Peter first came to Canada in 1982 to receive his BA in Economics and Asian & Pacific Studies from UVic. He subsequently worked in the corporate world of London, UK until deciding on a different career path in 1992 by pursuing a MA in Social Anthropology & Archaeology from Edinburgh University. He moved to Vancouver in 1996 and became founder & principal of Archaeomark Consulting, a cultural resource management company working with First Nations. Before joining the Bateman Foundation a as Managing Director in 2015, Peter was Vice-President of Knowledge, Collection & Archives at Royal BC Museum and Director of the Penticton Museum in the Okanagan. He was a member of the BCMA council from 2010 to 2016, and BCMA President 2014 – 2015. The outdoors is his key passion and spends most of his time with his wife and two children exploring adventures on land and water.

Nataley Nagy and Laura Wyllie – Transformative Engagement and Relationship Building: Our Lives Through Our Eyes: Nk’Mip Children’s Art

Our Lives Through Our Eyes: Nk’Mip Children’s Art was a shared exhibition between the Kelowna Art Gallery and the Kelowna Museums Society, guest curated by Andrea Walsh, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria. Their presentation at the 2019 BCMA Conference will demonstrate how exhibition programs can provide a transformative engagement, with a focus on strengthening connections with Indigenous communities. Their case study presents an example of how these relationships can impact and inform the work we do as small museums and galleries. In collaboration with their partners and local Indigenous community, they were able to share this truly remarkable story of the Nk’Mip day school and offer public programs that focused on the syilx/Okanagan people, their language, perspectives, and practices. 

More about Nataley and Laura

Nataley Nagy has over 34 years experience in the visual arts sector. She is an alumnus of the Getty Leadership Institute (2007) and the Banff Arts Administration Training Program (1984). Before moving to Kelowna to take on the position of Executive Director of the Kelowna Art Gallery, Nagy was the Executive Director of the Textile Museum of Canada (2002-2009) where she oversaw the digitization of the Museum’s Permanent Collection of over 12,000 artifacts. She managed a wide variety of complex art projects in her roles as Director of Gallery SAW Gallery/SAW Video (1984-1988), Arts Officer at the Ontario Arts Council (1988-93), and as Executive Director of the Art Gallery of Windsor (1993-2001). During her tenure at the Art Gallery of Windsor, Nataley oversaw the capital campaign and building project that relocated the AGW first into a six-year interim location in a regional shopping centre and then, into a new purpose-built $27 million facility. She received an Honorary Doctorate for her contributions to arts and culture from the University of Windsor. In addition, Nataley was a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Museums Association, and President of the Board of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. She on the Board of the British Columbia Museums Association, and the Board of Tourism Kelowna and is a member of Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Association (CAMDO).

Laura Wyllie
is currently the Curator of Learning and Engagement at the Kelowna Art Gallery. As the head of the public programs department, she is responsible for developing and implementing engaging and educational programs that support the Kelowna Art Gallery’s strategic priorities and goals. Laura received a Bachelor of Arts, from the UBC Okanagan Campus in 2012. In 2015, she received a Master of Arts in Art History, from Carleton University in Ottawa ON. In 2018, she received a Master of Education, from the UBC Okanagan Campus.


Kirsten Smith – Q&D Exhibit Elements for the Small Museum

I always want to create my own blockbuster exhibit, but the reality of working in a small museum is, the exhibit team is rarely more than one person, and designing exhibits is just one of the many hats I wear. In this workshop we’ll look at some of elements the AV Museum has used in exhibits over the past decade or so to both polish and enliven our exhibits. From shoestring budget elements like carving your own quill pens, and making a rubber stamp tour, to small splurge elements like life-size photographic murals and custom carpentry work. Successful ideas you can adapt and steal for use in your exhibits, as well as some duds you can avoid. 

More about Kirsten

Kirsten has spent most of her career at the Alberni Valley Museum on Vancouver Island, though she has also worked/volunteered/interned at various museums in Calgary, Vancouver and India. From 2001-2010 Kirsten worked as the AVM Assistant Curator, responsible for interpretation and historic restoration at McLean Mill National Historic Site. In 2010 she became Collections Curator for the Alberni Valley Museum where, among her other duties, she has designed several in-house and satellite exhibits.



Michael Swartz on behalf of the BCMA Advocacy Committee

The BCMA Advocacy Committee will guide participants of this session through four stages.
1. An overview of the Advocacy Toolkit available to all members via the BCMA website. We will familiarize members on these materials and empower them to take action.
2. Success Stories from 2 or 3 experienced BCMA Advocacy Committee members illustrating the challenges of advocacy, and the strategies employed to overcome them.
3. Breakout Sessions: Groups will be asked to brainstorm what issues concern them, how the committee can be of assistance, what issues they anticipate in 2020.
4. Wrap-up discussion. Breakout groups will be asked to report back. Participants will have time to discuss and provide direction for the Advocacy Committee to pursue in the coming year.

More about the BCMA Advocacy Committee

The BCMA Advocacy Committee is a volunteer committee comprised of BCMA members representing institutions large and small. The 2018/19 committee is co-chaired by Lynn Saffery, Museum Manager at the Museum of Surrey and Joelle Hodgins, Director, Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre. Presenting alongside Lynn are committee members Connie Baxter, Director of Operations at Fraser River Discovery Centre; Stephanie Halapija, Executive Director of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery; and Michael Schwartz, Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC. The committee is rounded out by Lee Boyko, Executive Director of the Sooke Region Museum; Erica Mattson, Executive Director of the BCMA; and Stephen Topfer, Manager of Collections and Exhibits at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, who are unable to attend the BCMA 2019 conference.


Lesha Koop – Mount making on a budget for small museums

Humans have a yearning and capacity for story. Often stories are associated with objects from a certain people, place or time. Which objects or specimens are put on display and how they are presented is very important to whatever story is being told. They can go beyond language in ways that words cannot always convey. Lesha’s goal is to teach people how to include these physical parts of the story while keeping them protected over the long term.

Lesha has been creating mounts for specimens at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, for nearly a decade. It’s a skill that many smaller museums need for their displays, but often don’t have the budget or personnel to fill this vital role. In this session, Lesha will teach practical, hands-on mount making solutions for people working or volunteering in museums.

More about Lesha

I have been creating art my whole life, and became interested in learning metal working in my early twenties. I took courses in both metal fabrication and welding, working in the steel trade for several years before returning to art school to learn blacksmithing and metal casting. I have a propensity for intricate and challenging projects, and tend to be meticulous in my work – traits which have served me well in the museum and art world.

In 2009 I began my first foray into mountmaking under the mentorship of Carl Schlichting at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. I discovered that mountmaking involved both creativity and technical skills, a combination I fell in love with and have developed over the years.

I have been keeping the natural history specimens at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC looking fine in their displays, helped improve specimen handling techniques for our interpreters and volunteers, as well as training work learn students in mountmaking and the care of specimens. I’ve even framed and mounted a good deal of fine art for our feature exhibits.

Since I often get asked what mountmakers do – as we are rather a niche trade – I often describe my job as protecting and supporting museum objects on display. Using apertures, trays and other custom fabricated devices, I innovate inside the box. Whether your box is tiny or large, I can make the display look beautiful and show off the specimen. Mounts should not draw attention to themselves; ideally, they are invisible. I often say that my best work is the stuff you don’t notice.

Sandra Borger – Putting People First

Hugues de Varine believed that “at the center of this idea of a museum lie not things, but people.” In a time where attractions are everywhere, special events are abundant, and leisure time is at a premium, museum’s need to reach new and diverse audiences to sustain themselves and to be relevant to the community they reside in. At the Museum of Surrey, the Visitor Experience Philosophy has helped staff effectively engage with, and be responsive to, diverse audiences through a visitor-centered approach.

More about Sandra

Sandra Borger is the Visitor Experience Coordinator at the Museum of Surrey. She has worked in museums for over a decade, including 7 years at the Museum of Surrey in various positions, including Education Specialist and Public Programs Specialist.


Satwinder Kaur Bains – Strategies to decentre the hegemony of colonial languages on Canadian immigrant languages as a process of decolonization

In Canada’s diverse populations, many immigrant languages from previously colonized countries are still steeped in the historic hegemonic hyper-central position of colonial languages like English and French. This position has consistently decentred indigenous voices and languages with impunity in the colonies, relegating them to discarded categories. Those languages from post-colonial countries that carried over to the far-flung colonies as immigrant minority languages also faced the same treatment. What are some the challenges that minority languages face in maintaining, enhancing and retaining their languages in Canada? Is there a recognition of the secondary and dis-entitled positions that minority languages face in the same manner as indigenous languages in Canada and if not, then how do we create opportunities for dialogue in schools and community to find common ground? This paper explores the decolonization processes that are being promulgated in support of understanding power and privilege by including immigrant languages that are being ignored by children in an education system that ignores the possibility of rich linguistic assets.

More about Satwinder

Satwinder Kaur Bains is the Director of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley and is an Associate Professor in the College of Arts – Social, Cultural and Media Studies. Her research interests include race and ethnicity, South Asian Canadian Diaspora Studies, Sikh cultural historiography, immigrant settlement and integration and cross-cultural curriculum.

Sanya Pleshakov – Finally Free and Loving It: Free admission and the inclusive museum

With the very lively discussion on the BCMA listserv last year about to go free or not to go free, this presentation proposes a deeper look into Burnaby Village Museum’s adventures in no-charge admission. With nine years now past since waiving fees, it feels like the right time to take stock and share with colleagues the ups and downs, the few surprises, and the huge opportunities that have come our way.

The biggest lesson worth sharing is that removing admission fees was just the first barrier to fall in our efforts in creating an inclusive Museum where our visitors might feel at home. A second component of these efforts has been to create more hands-on, and fewer “do not touch” experiences in our heritage buildings and exhibits—thinking about how to make our spaces more welcoming. And a third has been actively inviting community members to get involved in the Museum, to create content, programs, and exhibits with us in ways that are long-term and sustainable. We will briefly look at two recent examples of community-based partnerships at Burnaby Village Museum: The Indigenous Learning House and the UBC Asian Migration-Burnaby Research programs. Again, key to these unique partnerships was free—accessibility was the unique selling point in pitching these ideas to community partners.

As a municipal museum, it has been especially important to align the Museum’s interpretive vision to the City strategic goals of inclusion and diversity. As well, demonstrating value in visitor numbers can help secure the long term feasibility of free admission. This presentation is for participants considering taking the plunge who are looking for some hard facts and some recent stats, and maybe a little inspiration.

More about Sanya

Sanya Pleshakov is currently head of programming and education at Burnaby Village Museum, a 10-acre living history site in Metro Vancouver. She oversees a staff team dedicated to developing education programs, special events, and managing an extensive interpreter program on site. Her great joy is working with her curatorial colleagues to create community-led visitor experiences that create dialogue about our shared past and a sense of belonging. Sanya previously worked as a content developer for AldrichPears Associates developing, researching, and writing for exhibitions both locally and internationally. For her MA in History, she worked with the Musqueam First Nation on the history of settler colonialism and public memory in Vancouver.


Stephanie Halapija – Reconciliation in Historic Spaces: Moving Forward from a Colonial Past 

Indigenous peoples but also the racism surrounding early Chinese, Japanese workers and working women. The wooden floorboards, cedar roof and location on traditional territories symbolize the colonial past of our industry, the marginalization and mistreatment of workers and commodification of an integral Indigenous species form a complicated past that often produces visceral reactions in our audiences and visitors.
This workshop will cover different steps historic spaces can undertake at the beginning of the reconciliation process that primes staff, volunteers and Board members to recognize the affect of the site on the parties they wish to reconcile with. Topics will include challenging your staff to approach the site with different perspectives and recognize areas of emotional toll. As well, how fostering an environment of active listening that accepts difficult words, leans into the uncomfortable and perhaps most important of all, the power of surrendering your space. The beginning of the process of reconciliation is often the most daunting and filled with the most mis-steps, coupled with the emotional reality of a historic space, it can be overwhelming and feel impossible. However, moving forward and decolonizing our historic spaces is both possible and critical to an inclusive and reconciled Museum community. Through the lens of the ‘Monster Cannery’ museum professionals will learn how to move forward with an open mind, an open heart and with true authenticity.

More about Stephanie

Ontario grown, Stephanie moved to BC three years ago to run the Nisga’a Museum, following her passion for museum leadership, curatorial work, and indigenous social issues across Canada. A lover of creating exciting stories and forging new connections with wide audiences, She has dedicated her entire career to shaping a stronger Arts and Culture industry in Canada and BC. She has spent the majority of her time in the field of curation and development and has contributed/curated exhibitions at the Museum of Anthropology, The Nisga’a Museum, the Canadian Museum of History, the British Museum and the Bill Reid Gallery. A strong believer that museums can change the world, she is excited to work with the culturally diverse and significant presence of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society staff, community and family.


Prince George Public Library – Historic downtown walking tour 

This roughly 2km guided walking tour will feature downtown Prince George landmarks and share historical information on the building and site’s history. Created through resources provided by the Exploration Place and the Prince George Public Library, this tour promotes community pride and exemplifies the way that libraries and museums can partner to offer dynamic programs and events for the public.

More about the Prince George Public Library

The Prince George Public Library (PGPL) is a publicly funded library system located in the City of Prince George. Between its two branches, PGPL serves 58,188 cardholders. For more information visit


Joe Borsato and Mary Forbes – How to create excellent small museum education programming

This session will explore how to create engaging and culturally-sensitive school programming in partnership with other small heritage organizations. In the twenty-first century, the importance of educating the public about diverse issues ranging from historical consciousness to pollution and waste accumulation has never been greater. Museums, as some of the most trusted institutions in liberal democracies today, are in a strategic position to educate about these issues, even at the small museum level. The Potato House Project, a heritage house in downtown Williams Lake, uses hands-on learning activities, interlaced with traditional interpretative tours, to promote both historical and waste consciousness through a new community collaborative project.

Over the Spring of 2019, the Potato House Project partnered with other heritage professionals in the Cariboo area, including local Indigenous crafting expert Cecilia DeRose, to create the new education pilot program with financial support from the Province of British Columbia. The new program promotes both historical consciousness and hands-on learning through interpretative tours and crafting sessions. One of the main goals of the program was to demonstrate that local history education and waste consciousness do not have to be separate enterprises. Using the five senses and interpretative storytelling techniques to keep young audiences engaged, the program meets the modalities of students learning styles and cultural backgrounds. Join us for a hands-on activity during the session and learn how partnerships, shared narratives of local history and sustainability can be effective teaching tools for small museums.

More about Joe and Mary

Joe Borsato is the Museum Coordinator for the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin in Williams Lake, BC. Originally from Soda Creek, BC, he holds a Masters in History from the University of Alberta and an Honours degree in History from the University of Calgary.





With a degree in archaeology from Simon Fraser University, Mary Forbes is a retired oil patch archaeologist and former Lake Louise Parks Canada senior interpreter. In 2010 Mary won Gold for best interpretive program in Canada and now works in Williams Lake, BC, as the Executive Director of the Potato House Project, a local heritage attraction.

Leah Mcqueen – Stronger Together: Telling a Regional Heritage Story Through Collaborative Tourism Marketing

Join me for a look into the establishment and continuing success of the Northern Trails Heritage Society, the first and only regional heritage tourism collaborative in the Northeast. Including heritage sites, museums, and historical groups from Tumbler Ridge all the way to Fort Nelson, the Northern Trails Heritage Society has forged a path towards a collaborative approach to heritage tourism marketing and
created connections between previously isolated historical sites that is truly invaluable.

More about Leah

Leah has been involved in heritage in the Northeast for several years, both as a board member of the Northern Trails Heritage Society since its creation in 2015, and through a variety of roles (including her current status as president) within the Little Prairie Heritage Society in Chetwynd B.C. Her interest in heritage and tourism began in her teens when she worked as a Visitor Information Counsellor and grew through her studies at the University of Northern British Columbia where she graduated with a BA in Resource Based Tourism in 2005. When she’s not volunteering at the museum or attending meetings, Leah also volunteers as the regional representative for the South Peace region for the Four Wheel Drive Association of British Columbia and
enjoys traveling, camping, and spending time with her husband and three kids.

Julie Bevan and Arlene Deptuck – Siwin: Word Power

Join Julie Bevan and Arlene Deptuck to learn about Nanaimo Art Gallery’s action research project, Siwin: Word Power, which contributes to revitalizing Hul’q’umi’num, the language of the Snuneymuxw and Snaw-naw-as. Julie and Arlene will talk about what’s at stake, about collaboration and mentorship, art as a tool for language learning and practice, and they’ll share about how this multi-year effort is resonating and creating new opportunities. Engage in a hands-on activity led by Arlene and leave the session with ideas and inspiration to translate into action at home.

More about Julie and Arlene

Julie is the Executive Director at Nanaimo Art Gallery, located on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Since taking up this role in 2012, Julie has collaborated with a passionate team to transform the Gallery’s spaces, build capacity, experiment with and develop innovative exhibition and education offerings, and amplify the Gallery’s impact. Before choosing Nanaimo, Julie worked in Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa in various museum roles; she studied curatorial practice at UBC and art history at Carleton. As a thought-leader who is deeply committed to learning and contributing to a diverse, vibrant and more connected sector, Julie participates in initiatives and creative exchange on museum practice and community-building at home in Nanaimo and via national and international networks.



Arlene belongs to the Ganhada (Raven) family of the Kitsumkalum (People of the Robin) community within the Tsimshian Nation and is grateful to live, work, and make art in Snuneymuxw and Sna-naw-as ancestral lands. The rich and vibrant philosophies of her Tsimshian Nation, as well as other Indigenous communities she has had the honour to work with, inspire her commitmeIndint to facilitate better understandings between all Canadians as we navigate the waters of positive change. Arlene has served as the Indigenous Education Coordinator at Nanaimo Art Gallery since 2016 and has been involved in transforming the Gallery’s relationships with its communities. She maintains an independent creative practice under the name Gawagani Artworks. Arlene is passionate about art, languages and learning and is determined to always try to share an Indigenous greeting when you meet her!


Briana Sadler and Aisha Hamis – MakerLab 2RG: Art, Technology, and STEAM Education

Over the last 10 years, there has been an increasing focus towards the emergence of art,
technology, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education in art gallery & museum setting. Two Rivers Gallery, for the last 6 years, has been in a unique position to offer art and technology focused learning for adults, youth, and children. Through our MakerLab programs and events, MakerLab Youth Immersion, MakerClub, Maker Experience and STEAM Art Explorations – we have developed a strong footing in the Maker Culture and STEAM learning ecosystem within the community of Prince George.

More about Aisha and Briana

Briana Sadler has been working in art education for over 15 years, having worked with organizations such as the Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver, the National Gallery of Scotland, and the Sadie Centre for the Performing Arts in Montreal. She has a BFA in Art History from Concordia University and enjoys combining her interest in technology and making with her love of art and art practice. She is currently the MakerLab Coordinator at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, BC; developing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programming for youth and encouraging adults to ‘play’ with making during MakerLab.

Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George was the first gallery to have a maker space in British Columbia. They have continued to lead the way in Prince George in art focused STEAM and Maker Culture.


Aisha Hamis has been Public Programmer at Two Rivers Gallery for the last 3 years, where she facilitates exciting art experiences for preschool aged children through to adults. She is a long time museum and gallery lover with a Bachelor of Arts Management & Art History from the University of Toronto and a Masters in Art Museum & Gallery Education from Newcastle University.