On May 17, a public meeting was held by concerned citizens about the state and future of the Fort la Reine Museum. A meeting to which the board of directors for the museum as well as councillors from the Rural Municipality and the City were invited to attend, in order to hear directly from 70 or so concerned citizens gathered on a cool rainy night, for two hours of consultation about the future of the museum. Out of the dozen or so invitations to the officialdom of the community, the total number that came out to attend the meeting was a grand total of one city councillor, appearing on his own recognizance and not representing the city. Only one other invitee had the courtesy to reply to the invitation. The snub could not have been made more clear, and with an election year at hand, the rebuke its represents stings even harder.
It’s a shame that no invitees showed up because chairs were reserved right up front, all freshly dusted and polished, to help anybody who showed up sit through getting an earful about the debacle called the 2018 season at the museum. A season that will start three weeks late, operating under interim leadership with a staff of limited or no experience, having a demoralized volunteer core, having reduced hours of service, and seeing its season truncated by two months, obviously curtailing programs, activities and services to tourists and the community. A debacle of the museum’s board own making, with the forced departure of executive/curator Tracey Turner just ten days before the scheduled opening day.
What does it say about governance that refuses to meet with a concerned group of citizens 70 or so in number, gathered on a cool rainy night to discuss a subject close to their heart? What does it say about governance that never invites the public to annual meetings, if in fact they even hold such meetings? What does it say about a governance that fiddles with the museum’s constitution, without public consultation, that may place the charity status of the museum in jeopardy? What does it say about governance who claim long and careful considerations in the forced departure of senior staff, but carry it out at the 11th hour of season’s opening? And by the way, was there even a vote by the board on the departure, or did it just do the bidding of a higher authority thereby violating any pretence of operating at arm’s length? What does it say about a governance, whose majority membership is based, not so much on an outstanding desire to serve the interests of the museum, but rather as a jurisdictional requirement from higher levels of civic government?
Maybe it’s time to rethink the structure of the board of directors for Fort la Reine Museum and repopulate it exclusively with individuals who operate completely at arms length from its funding sources, whose first allegiance is to the museum, and who have the museum’s interests as close to heart as those concerned citizens who met on that rain-soaked cold night. Maybe then the musing of “I just wish the place would burn down” will disappear from the lexicon about the museum’s future, and maybe then and only then, the chair polish won’t be wasted on empty chairs, when invitations are made to be accountable, and to hear concerns, opinions, suggestions, and questions about the museum and its future.
If you care about the Fort la Reine Museum and what it has come to mean in our community, then maybe it’s time to put it entirely into the hands of those who have the same level of care, feelings and interests as you do. This can be done folks, just look to Steinbach, or Gimli, or St. Boniface for examples. Call me and let’s talk 204 428 6800