Lindsay Sorell’s new role combines two things she loves in life: history, and researching.
Sorell—a Métis artist, researcher, and writer—began her new position as the Prince Albert Historical Society’s Indigenous History Researcher on June 15. Since then, she’s started developing displays and interactive elements for the museum’s Indigenous history room.
“I’m just really excited about the project, and excited to work with the elders,” Sorell said during a phone interview. “The opportunity for collaboration between so many different Indigenous nations, I think, is really amazing.”
Sorell has deep roots in Prince Albert . Her family has lived in the area for seven generations, and she’s one of many descendants of James Isbister and Margaret Bear.
She realized Prince Albert had many untold stories after listening to tales from her grandparents. She’s eager to use her new role to bring those stories to light.
“I love to get the story of Indigenous history out there,” she added. “It hasn’t been told in a lot of institutions, especially museums, and the fact that it (this project) is led by elders and knowledge keepers is something that got me really excited too.”
Sorell said she wants to help all residents understand how Indigenous people lived before Prince Albert became a permanent settlement, and that desire is what drives her research. She views the museum as a great place to expand history beyond what’s written in textbooks by introducing visitors to oral traditions and stories.
She said it may take time to get some visitors to fully appreciate those traditions and stories, but she’s confident the museum and local elders will do a good job of introducing them to the subject.
“Changing peoples’ attitudes towards Indigenous history, that can be a long journey or a short journey, I feel, according to how open people are to learning,” Sorell explained. “I think the more that we work towards engaging with the community and helping people understand and open up to the idea of it, I think the faster is could happen, but it’s definitely a larger collaborative project.”
The National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) Trust Fund supported Indigenous Historical Researcher position with an $80,000 grant. In total, more than $142,000 in NIB grants have gone towards developing the museum’s Indigenous history room.
Michelle Taylor, the Prince Albert Historical Society curator, said they have enough funding to keep the Indigenous Historical Researcher position going until next March. Having a researcher like Sorell is an awesome achievement for the society, Taylor explained, and if they’d love to make it a long-term addition if possible.
“If funding was available, I think it would be a tremendous position to have here at the museum full time,” Sorell said.
Work on the Indigenous History Room will be complete by March 2022.
In addition to her role as a researcher, Sorell is also the founding editor of Western Canadian Media and the art journal Luma Quarterly. She won numerous awards for her research, and is currently completing her MA in Modern Languages and Cultural Studies from the University of Alberta.
Sorell has also illustrated a children’s book written by Maria Mayerchyk and Lesia Savedchuk titled Anna’s Dream. The book is scheduled for release this year.