Sharon Fortney

Museum of Vancouver
Curator of Indigenous Collections and Engagement
Victoria, Canada
North Vancouver, Canada
Faculty of Arts
Forging new partnerships: Coast Salish communities and museums
Susan Rowley

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

Exhibit development projects involving the communities of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh; care of indigenous collections; chair the repatriation committee; provide support to the Learning Team on request; public outreach activities

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My graduate degree focused on NWC ethnography, Material Culture studies, and Memory and Identity. My doctoral research looked at the status of community and museum relationships in Canada and the United States.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

Many different projects in development. There's a lot of diversity to the work.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

Yes. I had to take a few years off for family reasons, but I am working for several local institutions at the moment. I am also auxiliary staff for the Burnaby Village Museum, where I do research to help them include First Nations perspectives in their education programming and I have a contract as a guest curator with the Bill Reid Gallery for an exhibit that will open in September 2017.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

UBC's location and the UBC Museum of Anthropology.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

Working on community-based initiatives.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

I embrace teamwork, and do my best to listen and understand the needs of the client(s) I am working with. If an opportunity is interesting I am willing to adjust my rates to work on a project. Also consider the benefits that you might receive - flexible work hours, ability to work from home, etc...

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Do not graduate without practical work experience. If you cannot get a paid position, consider finding a day a week where you can gain professional experience while volunteering. It is helpful to have professional people write your reference letters for grad school and/or fellowship and grant applications.

Did you have any breaks in your education?

I took breaks between each of my degrees and worked in the museum and cultural research field. This was helpful for building a resume and helping to narrow down what I wanted to pursue for my graduate work.


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