A Week at the McCord Museum: New ways of learning - McCord Museum
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Roger Aziz, April 2022 © McCord Museum

A Week at the McCord Museum: New ways of learning

Every year, A Week at the McCord Museum offers elementary students a chance to spend five days at the Museum engaged in a host of themed activities.

Alexis Curodeau-Codère, Freelance Journalist

June 6, 2022

The Museum was relatively calm, as it is every morning before opening to the public. At 9 a.m., however, the doors opened and the entry hall reverberated with the joyful sounds of children, each carrying a small orange bag emblazoned with the words A Week at the McCord Museum. The group of thirty or so students and their teachers were spending a full week at the Museum.

Thanks to the Museum, the McCord Museum Foundation and the support program A Montréal School for All, grade 5 and 6 students from École Lucille-Teasdale, an elementary school in the Côte-des-Neiges district, were able to interact directly with Indigenous material and non-material culture in a series of workshops.

In the company of the Museum’s cultural mediation team and special guests, they learned about Indigenous legends, took part in games of skill with a circus artist from Tupiq A.C.T. (Arctic Circus Troupe), toured the exhibitions and explored Indigenous values by creating and recording a story.

© Thibault Carron, 2022
© Thibault Carron, 2022
© Thibault Carron, 2022
© Thibault Carron, 2022
© Thibault Carron, 2022

On Friday, when asked what their favourite activity was, the children erupted with comments: “I liked seeing the film presented by Wapikoni and exploring the seven Indigenous values… I also liked seeing the Indigenous objects… And creating the story… And also the games of skill… And also…” Not only that, they brought this enthusiasm home with them every evening.

Friday afternoon, the children assembled in the tiered seats of the Museum theatre, their eyes sparkling. They were joined by their teachers, the members of the Museum’s mediation team and several parents. It was time to listen to the stories they had created and recorded earlier in the week, inspired by the seven Innu values presented in the story by Donavan Vollant. In addition, displayed on tables were drawings, collages and posters of strange and fantastic animals that they had produced during the workshops.

Roger Aziz, 2022 © McCord Museum
Roger Aziz, 2022 © McCord Museum
Roger Aziz, 2022 © McCord Museum
Roger Aziz, 2022 © McCord Museum
Roger Aziz, 2022 © McCord Museum
Roger Aziz, 2022 © McCord Museum

“My daughter was excited about going to school every day this week. She got up earlier than usual and every evening she told me about all the activities she had done and everything she had learned about Indigenous cultures.” This comment came from a mother as she left the theatre, after looking at the students’ creations. Behind her, the children exited the room, laughing together. She continued, saying,

“Coming here to the Museum is really different. The children discover and see things with their own eyes that can’t be learned from books. It’s really an incredible experience for them. There’s a clear connection between theory and reality.”

Patrick, an École Lucille-Teasdale teacher who accompanied the group with two of his colleagues, told us, “This is really going to change the way I approach the theme of Indigenous and First Nations cultures. I learned a lot from the activities and the Museum’s different exhibitions. It will help me improve my teaching.” One of his colleagues added enthusiastically, “The students learned a lot and they all loved it—and we did, too! It’s funny: at the beginning of the week, I realized I was just as excited as the kids!”

While the teachers got back to their students, Renata, a student teacher, gave us a sad smile and confided, “I didn’t want it to end! I had a meeting yesterday that prevented me from coming to the Museum, but I didn’t want to go. All I wanted to do was come here. It was truly a memorable week.”

With the week having come to a close, the École Lucille-Teasdale students headed home with their stories, journals and a lot of new-found knowledge, like the Dene games they learned to play, which they will very likely share with their friends in the schoolyard. Leaving the Museum, they piled into the bus, tired but happy, full of memories of the week, an experience to share.

About the author

Alexis Curodeau-Codère, Freelance Journalist

Alexis Curodeau-Codère, Freelance Journalist

After studying visual arts and philosophy, Alexis Curodeau-Codère now works, wherever he can, to study, explore and illustrate, with portraits and images, human realities and the world's beauty. He is particularly interested in the transformative potential of storytelling, thanks to its social and political role, as well as its use as a tool for public education and learning.
After studying visual arts and philosophy, Alexis Curodeau-Codère now works, wherever he can, to study, explore and illustrate, with portraits and images, human realities and the world's beauty. He is particularly interested in the transformative potential of storytelling, thanks to its social and political role, as well as its use as a tool for public education and learning.