Museum member questions decisions

“Dear Fellow Museum Members,

You are invited to attend a public meeting about the Fort la Reine Museum, organized by the museum’s members and supporters. This will take place on Thursday, May 17th at 7:00 pm, in the Crocus Room of Herman Prior Activity Centre (40 Royal Rd. N., Portage la Prairie).

As you are probably already aware, Fort la Reine’s executive director and curator of seven years, Tracey Turner, was abruptly let go from her position by the museum board on April 30th. Many people like myself are shocked, confused, and would like answers as to what happened and what the board has planned for the museum going forward.”

And so with this beautifully worded invitation we were invited along with all of Portage to try and find out the reason for letting Tracey Turner, the executive director/ curator of the Fort La Reine Museum for the past 7 years, why would such a gifted and remarkable person be let go only days before the museum was to open for the summer?  All with HER ideas and displays and forethought for this coming season?  The reasons being given by the board chair Dale Wood, in our opinion makes no sense from what we have read?  Lets, say ‘we want to change direction”?  Why does that direction not include Tracey Turner the very person who made the museum turn full circle in the past 7  years?  Under her tutelage never before had the museum attracted so many people and so many accolades the province over?  Now this board wants to “change direction’ and not hire her back?  Does that make sense to anyone, other than those sitting on the board of Fort La Reine Museum?  Now today as of this writing, Tuesday, May 15/ 2018, a strange press release was made to the Portage Daily Graphic regarding this “Museum Saga” by the Fort La Reine board of directors and again in reading the ‘strange wording’ of the quoted press release, we among many are still left wondering exactly what direction is this museum heading in and again why is the expertise and experience of Tracey Turner not being included?  This press release answered NOTHING in our opinion and so we do hope this board comes to that meeting on Thursday evening, May 17/ 2018.

Tracey Turner was indeed a remarkable curator and executive director who brought many many people back to the museum and new ones to ‘discover’ it…through her hard work and creative thinking. We and many others were shocked and saddened, and yes abhorred when we heard the news that she had been let go from her position without an explanation, or at least a proper one and without even a ‘thank you!”  Shelley and I were among the many who had not been to the museum in years, literally 20 or more years because simply after having seen it there was nothing new to attract us…UNTIL Tracey came on the scene and made it accessible and made history come to life, and that is what brought Shelley and I back for the first time in years!  Shelley, being a person with a disability and fulltime wheelchair user was astonished by the change that had been made in the museum from the time she was last there!  Not only accessible physically but accessible by how she was treated and greeted by the staff.  Obviously the touches of a good executive director/curator. Someone who understood what a museum is and can be. It was like walking through and reliving history which we love to do.  And so we were shocked when this board of directors made in our opinion a terrible decision!

Just when the city is now wanting to PROMOTE tourism this decision to let a person like Tracey Turner go after having brought tourists for 7 years in much larger numbers than in all the years past is quite simply, the wrong decision and this Board of directors needs to be held accountable for it or at least come out publicly and give us the “real” reasons for not renewing the contract of Tracey Turner?  What they produced today in their “press release doesn’t cut it!  A “change in direction” is not reason enough when we have already seen proof that Tracey Turner had the museum already going in the right direction and was prepared to do so for another season!  Increased membership, increased visits, increased accolades province-wide and always something new to take in… we need to know the real reason she is being let go, we deserve that. Because right now without Tracey Turner at the helm, it is unlikely we will be returning when the museum does ‘eventually’ open!  IF a change in direction is the only reason for this dismissal, it is not reason enough and does not answer the question as to why she was let go!  Surely Tracey Turner could have handled whatever ‘change in direction’ this board of directors wants?  WHY the need for change in direction?  Well there again is another very good question for this board. Hopefully one of them or all of them will provide a better answer than the one given in today’s press release!


Ron and Shelley Stewart

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