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WAG-Qaumajuq is on a steadfast journey towards equity, decolonization and reconciliation.

For WAG-Qaumajuq to grow into its true potential as a safe and welcoming gallery space for everyone, we must decentre and dismantle the culture of whiteness within the institution. This is a difficult process, one that is resisted by the underlying principles, structures, and assumptions that the Gallery has historically endorsed.

We are committed to finding our path towards living together in a good way. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report Calls to Action gave us a starting point. The initiatives listed here reflect our commitment to travelling this path.

Equity Assessment Report and Findings

Recognizing that no colonial institution is immune to systemic racism and oppression, WAG-Qaumajuq made an important decision to be proactive in efforts to pursue decolonization, foster antiracism in its practices, and create a safe, equitable environment for all employees and the visiting public. After a year-long process surveying staff anonymously, interviewing staff and management, both past and present, reviewing our policies and procedures, and conducting planned and anonymous site visits, Equitable Solutions Consulting delivered a report identifying ways in which systemic oppressions were manifesting within the institution. The report provides findings and actionable recommendations that may be taken to commence remediation. Staff are currently working together to put an action plan in place. Progress updates will continue to be shared on this page.

The outside of the Qaumajuq Inuit art centre at night.
An anti racism employee resource group gathers in a large circle in WAG-Qaumajuq's Eckhardt Hall.

Anti Racism Employee Resource Group

The WAG-Qaumajuq Employee Anti-Racism Committee was created and has been meeting monthly since Spring 2021. All Gallery employees have an open invitation to attend the meetings. The Anti-Racism Committee has the long-term goal of creating an anti-racist environment at WAG-Qaumajuq. Recognizing that this is a lofty goal, education has been the starting point and staff are taking small, incremental steps to address white supremacy issues, both long-standing, and as they arise. The working group members are educating themselves about white supremacy and how it manifests itself in colonial institutions, micro-aggressions, micro-interventions, and more.

Anti-Colonial Social Club

The WAG-Qaumajuq Anti-Colonial Social Club (ACSC) is part of our ongoing efforts to de-centre and dismantle the culture of whiteness within the institution. It is dedicated to enhancing the well-being and sense of belonging of staff members from historically oppressed, equity-demanding groups. The Anti-Colonial Social Club hosts quarterly events designed to build community and support by creating safe, celebratory spaces where Indigenous, Racialized, and 2SLGBTQ+ staff members can get together, share stories, and feast.

The inside of the Ilipvik - Learning Steps.

Accountable Spaces Project

WAG-Qaumajuq consulted with Kemlin Nembhard of Blue Dragon Consulting and began formulating a Safer Spaces Value Statement. Now called Accountable Spaces, this project has entered its final phase and is developing a Public Accountability Commitment that will encompass and inform everyone who uses or has a relationship with the Gallery (visitors, staff, partners, volunteers, associates, vendors, and more). This document will outline the organization’s commitment to equity, care, trust and responsibility, and will contain a Code of Conduct to prevent and address potential unsafe, oppressive, and racist behaviours in our spaces.

Indigenous Language Sovereignty: Article 13

Responding directly to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Article 13 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, Number 14i, Indigenous Language Keepers, Knowledge Keepers and Elders gathered in 2020 to name the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Qaumajuq (Inuit art centre) buildings, as well as the spaces within.

Inuktitut, Inuttitut, Inuvialuktun, Anishnaabemowin, Nêhiyawêwin, Dakota, Dene, Michif and Anishininimowin now have a permanent presence throughout Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq.

Learn more about the project here and take a virtual tour here.

Several people wearing blankets over their shoulders participate in a Star Blanket Ceremony.

Ceremony & Making Prayers

At the direction of Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers, Julia Lafreniere – WAG-Qaumajuq Head of Indigenous Initiatives, hosts Ceremony in the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Qaumajuq on a regular basis. Ceremony is held in the artwork vaults and in the exhibition spaces as part of the ongoing spiritual care for the artwork, to honour the artworks’ spirits, and the spirits’ of their makers. Dakota Elder Wanbdi Wakita told Julia that the more she has Ceremony in the spaces, the more comfortable the ancestors will feel coming into those spaces to protect and guide everyone that visits.

Repatriation policy

If an artwork is found to be acquired in an unethical manner by WAG-Qaumajuq or by the individual or institution who collected the works prior to it entering the Gallery’s collection, we would move forward with the necessary steps towards repatriation. Public access to provenance information on all artworks in the WAG-Qaumajuq collection is available upon request. Research on the provenance of artwork in the WAG-Qaumajuq collection is an ongoing exercise that is part of our mission and operations. For instance, in 2014, the Gallery was one of six galleries who participated in a pilot research project coordinated by the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO) to research the provenance of Holocaust-era artworks.

Learn more

An Indigenous Knowledge Keeper holding a drum.

Artworks Renaming Initiative

As with many historical collections of artworks, there were certain pieces in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s collection that carry racist and harmful words in their titles. The Artworks Renaming Initiative addresses these problematic titles by incorporating Indigenous knowledge directly into the canon of art history by asking Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to gift new names to the artworks. Read more about the project.

This initiative was acknowledged by the Canadian Museum Association and was honoured with the “Outstanding Achievement in the Stewardship of Collections” award.

Read an article published in Muse Magazine here.

New hours at WAG-Qaumajuq
WAG-Qaumajuq recognizes that land acknowledgements are part of an ongoing dialogue with Indigenous Nations, and we are grateful to live and work on these lands and waters. Institutionally, WAG-Qaumajuq is committed to acknowledging our colonial history and we are actively working to interrogate the Gallery’s colonial ways of being.

WAG-Qaumajuq is LEED certified.

WAG - Winnipeg Art Gallery Outline
Winnipeg Art Gallery—Qaumajuq
300 Memorial Blvd
Winnipeg, MB
204.786.6641 // Gallery
204.789.1769 // Shop
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