Disrupting colonialism: weaving indigeneity into the gallery in schools project of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria




Murphy, Tracey

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In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made their final recommendations for Canadian society to address cultural genocide: by affirming stories of survivors, taking personal and professional inventory of their practices and making concrete steps to meet the Calls to Action. In particular, the TRC recognized damage done by museums and art galleries to perpetuate colonialism and yet, believed that these institutions could be sites of justice, particularly in relation to arts and artists The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, an institution steeped in colonialism and under pressure to create accountable relationships with Indigenous communities, began to act by revamping their education program for school age children entitled the Gallery in the Schools art program. My study asked Indigenous artists and educators to contribute their ideas for a new art program. I used a blended research of community based and decolonizing research models, contextualized within decolonizing and critical theoretical frameworks. Overall, research findings suggest that process is as important as the end product in the context of reconciliation and decolonization. Significantly, relationships were esteemed over the concept of reconciliation. These finding further imply that a successful art program would ground pedagogical content within a critical historical framework, be informed by a fluid understanding of identity and search out possibilities of hope. The theoretical implications of this study support increased contributions by Indigenous artists as key policy makers, who will challenge the deeply embedded power structures of institutions and offer alternative ways to share power and support Indigenous envisioned futures.



decolonization, Indigenous art education, museum education, art education, Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous futurity, critical pedagogy, Community Based Research, Decolonizing Theory