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November 6, 2002
Culture Division receives two awards for outstanding museum programming
Culture - The Museum and Heritage Services Section of the City of Toronto's
Culture Division recently received two museum programming awards - one
international and one provincial. The first is the American Oral History
Association 2002 Project Award to the Scarborough Historical Museum and the
Multicultural History Society of Ontario for "Agincourt: A Community History".
The second is the Ontario Museum Association Award of Merit to Spadina Museum
and actor Dawn Roach Bowen for the Black History Month (2002) program, "Meet
Mrs. Pipkin."

Agincourt: A Community History was an oral history project developed in 2001 to
deepen understanding and develop connections across cultures and generations in
Agincourt neighbourhoods. Agincourt is a community that has changed
dramatically in the last 60 years. In many ways, Agincourt's story is the same
as that of many small towns in North America - it has changed from a small
crossroads village surrounded by farmland to a busy suburban centre with a
diverse multicultural population.

The project facilitated the sharing of stories and experiences of almost 50
interviewed people - including long-time residents and new immigrants. The
project explored people's personal histories and how they had been shaped by
the place of Agincourt. The interview team was interested in the interaction
between established residents and those arriving as newcomers. The information
was then compiled into a travelling community exhibit that opened on February
27, 2002 at the Scarborough Civic Centre. The exhibit travelled over the next
year to six other public locations including shopping malls and libraries.

This project received the Project Award from the Oral History Association
(OHA). OHA, located in Pennsylvania, is an international organization that
serves a broad professional audience. It brings together all persons interested
in oral history as a way of collecting human memories. The award was presented
at OHA's 2002 Annual Conference in San Diego, California on October 26, 2002.
When presenting the award, OHA commented that they "appreciated the way that
the project involved the community, and that this project is a fine example of
outreach to the general public through the use of oral histories."

Meet Mrs. Pipkin was a sensitive first-person interpretation and re-enactment
of Mrs. Pipkin, a former slave who, in the 1860s, worked as a laundress at
Spadina, the home of the prominent Austin family. As part of Spadina's black
history programming, this interpretative program was held on several dates
throughout Black History Month. Dawn Roach Bowen turned her research and
insights into a compelling performance of Mrs. Pipkin. She brought to life Mrs.
Pipkin's personal and political struggles at a time when Toronto was a safe
haven from slavery. Her research also shed new light on the role of the women
who lived and worked in the Austin household.

This program received the Ontario Museum Association's Award of Merit that
recognizes outstanding contributions to the professional practice of museum
work, with emphasis on innovation.

These two museum programs are examples of the innovative, culturally diverse
programming presented by the ten museums operated by the City of Toronto. The
museums are community places that help people experience history and foster
connections between their current experiences and Toronto's past.

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