Winner of 2006 Museums and Schools
A whale of a project! The tiny Magdalen Islands win national award
April 5, 2007 -- For Immediate Release
EDS NOTE: Of special interest for Quebec and Nunavut media
OTTAWA, April 5, 2007 - An educational programme that brought together
50 per cent of the youth on the Magdalen Islands with their local
aquarium for a project on marine mammals has won the fourth annual
Museums and Schools Partnership Award. This national award is co-sponsored
by the Canadian College of Teachers and the Canadian Museum of Nature,
in collaboration with the Canadian Museums Association. An honourable
mention was awarded to a collaboration between a school and community
museum in Sanikiluaq, located in Nunavut's Belcher Islands in the
south-eastern area of Hudson Bay.
The idea for the marine mammal project was conceived in 2003 when
a minke whale was found on the shore of one of these islands, located
in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The community pulled together to remove
it. Due to the amount of work involved, it was thought that the
involvement of youth would greatly benefit the project. Out of this
came a partnership between the Aquarium des îles-de-la-Madeleine,
the school board (la Commission scolaire des îles-de-la-Madeleine)
and the cÉgep (le campus des îles du CÉgep de
la GaspÉsie-îles de la Madeleine). It culminated three
years later in an exhibition about the marine mammals they had collected.
Every stage of the project depended on youth participation, even
the flensing (cutting up) of the specimens and the mounting of skeletons.
The diverse range of activities included art contests, a competition
to name new seals at the aquarium, a debate in Montreal on the seal
hunt, visits to a cÉgep biology class, drawing workshops,
a lecture on marine mammals hosted by secondary students, the creation
of interpretive panels for the exhibition, and the mounting of a
harbour porpoise skeleton by biology students. The exceptional quality
of these activities was noted by the selection committee.
"Another important facet was the participation of the community
in enriching this project,"noted Mary
Ellen Herbert, co-chair of the award committee, in summing up the
comments of the judges. "Visitors benefit not only from a scientific
exhibition on marine mammals but also from the perspectives of island
youth about their natural heritage. The fact that the Aquarium gave
the young people a chance to engage in activities that spoke to
their reality and environment gave them ownership of these themes.
Further, they could discuss these issues with their parents and
friends and enhance community knowledge."
"We're very, very happy about this recognition", says
Aquarium director Sophie Fortier, noting the great benefit for the
community that results when museums and schools work together.
An honourable mention for the 2006 Museums and Schools Award was
given to a partnership with the Najuqsivik Society Community Museum
which is housed in Nuiyak School in Sanikiluaq, a community of 800
Students were involved in projects as diverse as making archaeological
castings, polar bear rugs and mounts, helping to finish a sod house,
videoconferencing and more. As John Jamieson, principal of the Nuiyak
School stated: "The foyer of the school is the static museum
but the real action of the museum is the hands-on activities that
produce these artifacts. Some of our programmes will not be found
in any other northern school."
The method of archaeological reproduction casting, which the students
learned at the Archaeological Survey of Canada labs in Gatineau,
QuÉbec, has resulted in over 160 moulds. The community has
also produced videos on this casting process in both English and
Inuktitut and has given workshops.
Submissions from across the country, involving more than 20 institutions,
were entered for the 2006 award, which recognizes partnerships between
schools and museums for educational programmes that enrich students'
understanding and appreciation of Canada's cultural and natural
heritage. Criteria for assessing projects include vision, participation
of all partners from the outset, collaboration potential and relevance
of the project to the community served.
The Museums and Schools Partnership Award is open to any Canadian
school or school board that collaborates with any Canadian non-profit
public museum, including zoos and science centres. The submission
deadline for the 2007 award is Nov. 15, 2007. The Canadian Teachers'
Federation has joined the sponsoring partnership and will be involved
in the organization and selection processes for next year's award.
For more information, visit the Web site of the Canadian College
of Teachers at www.cct-cce.com.
For more information about the projects, to obtain
photos or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Senior Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Nature
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