Mixalhíts̓a7, Alison Pascal, SLCC Curator, visits Fiji as educator

Museum Education in the Pacific – Building Resilience
I’m very honoured to be invited to join the Commonwealth Association of Museums for their workshop ‘Museum Education in the Pacific’ in Suva, Fiji this past month. I’m very grateful to be sponsored by the Canadian High Commission of New Zealand to attend the workshop. The theme was ‘Building Resilience’ but as is with most conferences and workshops it was more about building relationships. There were representatives from all over the Pacific Islands; Australia, Belau, Kiribati, Papa New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and of course Fiji.

Fiji was much more than I expected. Before going down I dreamed only of the tropical beaches; when I got there I was overwhelmed by the modern city and the amount of people. Throughout my visit I noticed as Indigenous People we have many things in common; our connection to the land, animals and resources, strong family ties and a deep respect shown through hospitality to invited guests.

My favorite part of the trip was the group visit to Ratu Sukuna Memorial School. The staff organized a welcome ceremony for our group, art demonstrations, a performance by their choir, a fashion show of the regalia of all 14 cultural regions of Fiji and a dance presentation. Parents came to the school to help dress their children and sat in the back proudly to witness the day’s events.

Coming from a developed country I felt I had more experience to share with the smaller developing countries. Tourism in Canada has a lot of support from the municipal, provincial and federal governments, industry partners and peers. Our visitor numbers have influenced growth and variety in our educational programs.

The Pacific Islanders have inspired me with some of the ways they involve their communities through programming. I only hope that my experience and participation was helpful to somebody at the workshop and I hope to see everyone again.

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