On Tues. March 6 and Wed. March 7, Laurier hosted a fundraising event for the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Save the Evidence Campaign. Books, t-shirts, water bottles, and pins were sold on-campus with all proceeds going towards repairs and renovations at the Woodland Cultural Centre to ensure Canada’s dark history of residential schools is never forgotten.
This event was organized by Hazel Hennessey-Perea, student volunteer, with the assistance of Professor Darren Thomas and Margaret Neveau, head of the Indigenous Initiatives Office. Staff from the Woodland Cultural Centre came out as well to talk about the Centre and the renovation project.
The Woodland Cultural Centre, formerly known as the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School accepts almost 15,000 visitors per year who are given the opportunity to take a look into First Nations and Canadian history by touring what was once one of the longest-running residential schools in Canada. The Centre opened its doors in 1972, two years after the Mohawk Institute had been closed down. Its aim is to preserve and promote First Nations culture and heritage.
The Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School was in operation in Brantford for 142 years, from 1828 to 1970. Its purpose was to serve as a boarding school for Native children aimed at assimilating them into European Christian culture and to sever their cultural connections with their families and communities.
The Woodland Cultural Centre includes a research library which includes books, journals, newspapers, exhibition catalogues, vertical files, microfilm, and theses. They also have a museum that visitors can tour complete with a variety of First Nations artefacts and art pieces from the prehistoric past of the Iroquois and Algonquin through to the 21st century. The museum includes archaeological artefacts, historical material, documents, furniture, paintings, drawings, graphics, sculptures, photographs, and other art pieces.
In 2013, the Woodland Cultural Centre suffered costly water damages from roof leaks, prompting the need to raise funds to repair the damages and ensure that the Centre can continue with its tours and programming. The systems inside the Centre, such as the central heating and electrical and plumbing need to be replaced as well since they have not been updated since the 1940s to 1950s. In addition, there is a large amount of asbestos in the building which needs to be dealt with. It’s a big project that involves preparing the building to be up to modern building codes and health and safety standards.
The Woodland Cultural Centre offers many tours and programs to visitors. The survivor series is currently ongoing. Throughout the summer, every month, a Mohawk Institute Survivor will share their experience of being at the school. Admission is $10 per person and pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlie Myke – Outreach Coordinator, Woodland Cultural Centre