THE WOODLAND CULTURAL CENTRE
EXPERIENCE THE CULTURE OF SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER
THE WOODLAND CULTURAL CENTRE
The Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School operated in Brantford, Ontario from 1828 to 1970. It served as a boarding school for First Nations children from Six Nations, as well as other communities throughout Ontario and Quebec. It served as a key tool in the effort to assimilate First Nations children into European/Christian Society, and sever the continuity of culture from parent to child. After closing in 1970, it reopened in 1972 as the Woodland Cultural Centre, a non-profit organization that serves to preserve and promote First Nations culture and heritage. The Mohawk institute Indian Residential School Building, as part of The Woodland Cultural Centre, has been providing in depth and historically significant insight into the Residential School System for the past 45 years. With close to 15,000 visitors every year, WCC tours and programs offer a distinctive look into First Nations and Canadian history.
SAVE THE EVIDENCE CAMPAIGN
As one of only a handful of residential school buildings left still standing in Canada, the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School is a physical reminder of the legacy of assimilation imposed upon First Nations children in Canada. More than 15,000 people visit the Mohawk Institute, as part of the Woodland Cultural Centre, every year. Visitors come to see not only what was once the longest-running residential school in Canada, but to experience the stories the building holds.
In 2013, major roof leaks caused significant and costly damage to the building. With such large costs to repair the building, the Woodland Cultural Centre conducted several Community Consultations to gauge the level of support from the community. The results were overwhelming, with more than 98% in support of the restoration of the Mohawk Institute.
The Save The Evidence fundraising campaign was launched in response. Its goal is to raise the necessary funds for repairs and renovations to ensure the physical evidence of the dark history of Residential Schools in Canada is never forgotten.
In 1975, the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Executive Director Glen Crane found it necessary to include the arts into the Centre’s yearly programming thus developing Indian Art, an annual juried art exhibition the Centre still holds to this day albeit the title has been changed from Indian Art to First Nations Art, and in 2018 Indigenous Art. Indigenous artists working in painting, printmaking, drawing and sculpture did not have an opportunity to show their work in mainstream galleries and the Centre filled this important gap. As a result of this annual exhibit, a collection was established and has grown considerably since its installation. The Centre has been seen and is still considered as one of the foremost leaders and experts in Indigenous art. The staff continually strive to seek out emerging Indigenous artists, as well as continuing to support mid-career and established artists though the presentation and promotion of their work.
The Woodland Cultural Centre has three exhibition spaces: the Tom Hill Gallery totals 1,680 square feet, the E. Judy Harris Gallery totals 660 square feet, and the Stan Hill Gallery totals 100 square feet. These spaces rotate temporary contemporary art and historical exhibitions on a 3 month cycle. The public programs and projects, provincial, national and international exhibitions are selected and developed in accordance to the year’s curatorial themes by the Artistic Director. A majority of the visual art exhibitions require a feasibility study and research phase which requires the development of the annual work plans. Some projects take three to five years before the planning phase can become writing into the annual work plans and approved by the Board of Directors. The Centre has a three year planning cycle which is essential to complete all phases of the planning for exhibitions. The Centre has included in our tasks to complete community evaluations and a needs assessment to assist us in our public programming to ensure the communities’ needs are met.