Fort la Reine Museum – an iconic Manitoba arts and culture institution, provincial star attraction, and #1 Portage la Prairie tourist destination on TripAdvisor – as we know it, is gone.
At the end of April, Tracey Turner was unfairly let go from her 7-year position, without notice, as executive director and curator – and primary caregiver – of Fort la Reine Museum.
I am upset by the museum board’s decision and feel they should have handled things differently. As a result of what has happened, my honest and informed decision is to not continue my fourth year of employment at Fort la Reine Museum. I cannot possibly imagine the workplace without our team around; we are a family that has always accomplished great things for our community’s citizens and visitors, together.
Tracey has been the one to get passionate and dedicated staff – and volunteers – on board to make Fort la Reine a better place to work, visit, and explore. On top of that, she has allowed her employees’ skills, personalities, and creativity to shine by finding positions uniquely suited to each of us. My job description combined my love of the environment, culture, and history. Showing up to the museum was more than work – it was becoming a rewarding career and fulfilling lifestyle for me.
Tracey is a powerhouse and has been more than qualified to be in her position, having transformed Fort la Reine Museum from a collection of neglected buildings into a renowned facility with year-round programming and events. Over the past seven years, Tracey’s responsible leadership and expertise have increased attendance from 3,000 to 15,000 annual visits and attracted a broad range of demographics to the museum.
State-of-the-art exhibits, exciting new events, a tallgrass prairie project, building upgrades, accessibility improvements, and revamped interpretive tours would not have happened without Tracey at the helm. People who had previously never even heard of the museum were coming back several times a year. 2018 was shaping up to be our best year yet, the season had already started, and then the board lets Tracey go without a good reason, last minute. The only thing the chair of the board has said publicly is that they have decided to “go in a different direction.”
I have told the museum board that I would only return to work at Fort la Reine Museum under the condition that Tracey Turner gets reinstated as executive director. I sincerely hope the museum board reconsiders their decision – it will be tough to fill Tracey’s shoes.
If you’ve been positively impacted in some way by the museum or staff members, please feel free to write letters of support. On Thursday, May 17th at 7:00 pm, a public forum will be held at Herman Prior Centre’s Crocus Room to share any questions, concerns, or comments you may have regarding the museum, its current situation, and future direction. The board members and both councils will be invited. As citizens and taxpayers, we need to hold the board accountable and find out what exactly is going on.

Josh Wright