Knowledge gained at Museum of History’s internship program is meant to be taken home

Ariane Xay Kuyaas calls the National Museum of History’s Indigenous Internship a great experience.

“You learn a lot,” she said. “And it’s kind of for me, for coming from so far away but coming to things that are from my own village or my own area and seeing that the mastery of it.”

During her research placement, Xay Kuyaas learned about her own culture and about how different shaped baskets had different names in the Haida language.

She blames colonization for that lack of knowledge about her own culture but she’s determined to change that.

“At home we may not have those types of baskets anymore. We might not because it was all taken away. So it was sleeping. But now I can come home with more knowledge for our community.”

The program has been up and running since 1993 and since that time, 124 interns have participated.

“They come here to acquire more experience or there’s a lot of people that already have an interest and they want to know if it’s worth pursuing like studies over this,” said program coordinator, Gaëlle Mollen.

Xay Kuyaas first visited the Museum of History, formerly known as the Museum of Civilization located in Gatineau, Que., a decade ago and learned about the internship program – but didn’t apply.

“I was shy and I’m like not in university,” she said. “I don’t know if I could apply for something like that. And then I saw the application come around and I didn’t apply.”

Mollen says an academic background is not necessary.

“It’s not a requirement  to have a diploma, we just ask to have a high school diploma,” said Mollen. “And if you don’t have any high school diploma just have experience in the museum field or in cultural centres.”

In fact, cultural experience can account for a lot when applying. Something Xay Kuyaas had knowledge about, having learned weaving techniques from her aunt since she was 14.

So 10 years later when the opportunity to apply again came up, she didn’t hesitate.

Mollen said interns learn a lot about how museums operate in their 8 month stay.

“They have several placements in different divisions: collection, conservation, research, public affairs, exhibition and museum services.”

The deadline to apply for the internship this year is April 14.

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