In March 2023, the Tri-University Graduate Program in History (Tri-U) was excited to learn that the Woodland Cultural Centre (WCC) announced Heather George’s appointment as their new executive director. Heather is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Waterloo supervised by Dr. Susan Roy. Heather is Kanien’kehá:ka and Euro-Canadian, her father’s family are from Akwesasne, along the St. Lawrence River.
Established in 1972 by the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, the Woodland Cultural Centre, “serves to preserve, promote and strengthen Indigenous language, culture, art and history; bringing the story of the Hodinohsho:ni people of the Eastern Woodlands to life through innovative exhibitions and programs.” Its mission is to, “protect, promote, interpret, and present the Hodinohsho:ni worldview.” The WCC is located at the site of the former Mohawk Institute residential school on Six Nations Grand River Territory at the edge of the city of Brantford, Ontario.
In their announcement, the Centre’s Board of Directors notes that Heather was a guest curator for them for about 18 months prior to the appointment. They are “thrilled to welcome Heather and look forward to the wealth of knowledge, expertise, and creativity that she brings to her new role.” Allison Lynn, president of the Centre’s Board of Directors continues,
We are confident that Heather will continue to inspire, innovate, and connect, as we work together to preserve and promote Hodinohsho:ni history, language and culture.
Heather’s research “examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of contemporary museum practices across Hodinohsho:ni communities.” Through her research, Heather has built relationships with other Hodinohsho:ni communities and leaders in cultural preservation. Combined with her review of archival records, this research and these relationships provide an important foundation for her to continue supporting Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums (GLAM) sector. Heather also applied her research through her role as the President of the Canadian Museums Association, supporting staff in the release of the Moved to Action: Activating UNDRIP in Canadian Museums (PDF) in 2022.
Dr. Peter Goddard, the Tri-U’s Director affirms,
Heather George’s appointment as Executive Director of the Woodland Cultural Centre speaks to the Tri-University PhD program’s ability to support and prepare our students for opportunities beyond the academic. Really good work, Heather!