A Mohawk woman with a passion for her culture has been appointed the new executive director of the Woodland Cultural Centre.
The board of directors announced last week that Heather George has been appointed to the role.
George has been working with the Brantford-based centre for the past year and a half as a guest curator while on leave from a position as curator of Indigenous Histories at the Canadian Museum of History.
In addition to her curatorial skills, George, a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo, brings a strong research background to the role.
She is a scholar of Euro-Canadian and Kanien’kehá:ka descent and much of her personal and professional work has been directed at gaining a better understanding of the culture and history of her nation.
Her current research examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of contemporary museum practices across Haudenosaunee communities.
“We are thrilled to welcome Heather and look forward to the wealth of knowledge, expertise, and creativity that she brings to her new role,” says Allison Lynn, president of the WCC Board of Directors. “We are confident that she will continue to inspire, innovate, and connect, as we work together to preserve and promote Hodinohsho:ni history, language and culture.”
George has strong ties to Six Nations of the Grand River and the broader urban Indigenous communities in the area, working for more than a decade with urban and reserve-based Indigenous organizations throughout the Haldimand Tract territory.
She currently serves on the board of Chiefswood National Historic Site, the Indigenous Heritage Circle and the Canadian Museums Association.
She has also worked with various heritage and arts organizations including the National Trust for Canada and Mass Culture.
George is joining Woodland as the centre celebrates 50 years of being a leading voice in Indigenous cultural preservation and promotion.
Building on that, George will be working to support and expand Woodland’s vibrant art, language, and heritage programming in the work of cultural reclamation.
George will also oversee the ongoing restoration of the Mohawk Institute Residential school site, which sits adjacent to the WCC on Mohawk Street in Brantford.
Aside from being a scholar and curator, George is also a mother, gardener and beader – roles that allow her to remain, even outside the office, focused on cultural preservation, heritage, and youth resiliency, WCC noted.
“I am grateful for the strong foundation which has been built by many generations of Woodland staff and our support communities,” said George. “It is an honour to carry their work forward and I am excited to help set the path for our next 50 years as we continue to lead Woodland in fostering community wellbeing, healing and resiliency through arts, culture and heritage.”
George succeeds Janis Monture, who was recently appointed Executive Director and CEO of the Canadian Museums Association.
She began her new role at the Centre on Mar. 20, 2023.