DANIELLA PONTICELLI/BRANDON SUN
Cpl. Shannon Robertson, centre, and Capt. Chris Mills view photographs from the “Places of Power” exhibit that opened at the RCA Museum on Thursday.
CFB SHILO — Canada’s true North is proudly on display after two Arctic exhibits opened at the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum on Thursday.
To celebrate National Aboriginal Day, the museum at CFB Shilo brought in temporary exhibits, "Places of Power: Objects of Veneration" and "The Tunit — A Paleo-Eskimo People," from the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Quebec.
For museum director Marc George, focusing on northern culture provides much needed context for future military operations.
"There is so much debate in the public about defending the Arctic," George said. "If we’re going to have a debate about it, then maybe we need to have a greater insight into what it is."
Telling a compelling visual story is "Places of Power," featuring 36 photographs of inukshuks and sacred places in the Arctic, mainly Baffin Island. Taken by Canadian photographer Norman Hallendy, the images are part of his research for the Canadian Museum of Civilization and displayed in a stacking manner to mimic elements of the inukshuk.
"The Tunit" is a smaller travelling exhibition about the paleo-Arctic people who lived some 3,000 years ago.
"The originators of the stone sculptures are the Tunit who are considered the first to cross the Bering Strait," said Kathleen Christensen, senior curator RCA Museum.
An antler carved with detailed faces is one of the replica artifacts in the exhibit showcasing the cultural practises of people far removed from the dry Shilo training ground.
"One of the reasons why we set up this exhibit is to have something relevant...and to better understand the North where we do some training," Christensen said.
Warrant officer Roger Carraqueira of 1st Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, has been stationed at CFB Shilo for more than 20 years and likes the change of scenery in the museum.
"It’s something different and it’s nice because I might possibly be going up there," Carraqueira said.
The potential posting is in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, which is quickly becoming a hub of Canadian Forces activity. This past February, more than 1,500 soldiers from across the country took part in multimillion-dollar exercise training for tactical movement in Arctic conditions.
And while the North seems to be the way of the future, Carraqueira enjoyed seeing how it all began.
"We started with the spears, and arrow heads," Carraqueira said. "For us in the military it is always intriguing how the weapons started."
This isn’t the first time Manitoba’s rich indigenous history is showcased in the army museum.
In January, Manitoba First Nations and Métis culture were represented in a temporary fur trade exhibit. Permanently, these cultural groups are part of the displays about how the Canadian Forces began in the province.
"We want to take a broader view of military history in Canada and educate our visitors about the people who are soldiers," George said.
The exhibits will run until September at the RCA Museum, which is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two more large-scale Museum of Civilization exhibits will be hosted at the base; the "Queen Elizabeth Jubilee" in 2013 and "The War of 1812" in 2014.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 22, 2012