A Different Perspective

As part of the Treaty Training workshop I participated in at the Manitoba Museum on Monday we looked at some of the museum’s exhibits and tried to see them from a First Nations’ perspective.  

non such at the manitoba museumI’ve toured the Nonsuch ship in the museum many times.  As I’ve explored the cramped living quarters below deck I’ve thought about what it must have been like for the sailors who lived aboard the vessel in 1668 as the ship made the 118 day voyage from England to Canada to trade for beaver pelts with the Cree. I’ve wondered at the ingenuity of the ship builders and thought about the historical importance of the crew members because the success of their voyage led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company. I’ve wondered how the sailors might have spent their very first winter in the cold of James Bay. 

nonsuch manitoba museumOur guide asked us to look at the ship again however and imagine what might have been going on in the minds of the First Nations people who first saw the Nonsuch when it arrived in Canada on its maiden voyage. Aboriginal Canadians might have been thinking………

Who are these men?  Will they be the same or different than their people who have visited us before? How did they build such a massive ship out of wood?  What do they want here?  How can they expect to spend the winter here when they don’t have the things they will need to survive?  We may need to help them make it through the winter. Why have they traveled without any women?  Why are our furs of value to them? What will they do with a ship full of beaver pelts where they come from?  How will their presence in our community change our way of life? Should we be afraid of these people or should they be afraid of us? Once they leave will we ever see them again?

first nations village manitoba museumIt was interesting to look at the Nonsuch from a different perspective. 

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Filed under Canada, History, Winnipeg

7 responses to “A Different Perspective

  1. Thanks for this. Am enjoying your posts. Amdn maybe if I get to visit my sister-in-law Joanne Gullachsen in Gimli I will visit this.


  2. Perry Nodelman

    It’s worth pointing out that a series of British and other European explorers had been in Hudson Bay and had contact with people who lived there prior to the Nonsuch, beginning with Henry Hudson in 1610–so it’s unlikely that the Nonsuch would have been the first European ship the indigenous people had seen.


    • Dear Perry,
      Thanks. I’ll edit accordingly.


      • Perry Nodelman

        I should add that I suspect there’s some truth in the guide’s and your speculations about an indigenous response to a first contact with Europeans, which is the relevant concern here. It just would have happened somewhat earlier on. (And forgive me for being in insufferable fact-checker mode. I’ve been working on a YA novel about Hudson’s first voyage, and am burdened with far more insignificant info about this stuff than any rational 21st century human being ought to aware of.)


  3. Ruth Goudreau

    I’m currently reading a book that I think might answer some of the questions you pose, MaryLou. It’s called Daughters of Copper Woman by Anne Cameron. Quite an interesting read and definitely from the perspective of Aboriginal Canadians.


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