Young Canada Works Project: The Awesomeness Initiative 2018

Here at the Bata Shoe Museum, we want our visitors to have an awesome experience! Thanks to the support of the Young Canada Works program for funding this project, we were able to hire a student to fill the role of Awesomeness Initiator! Here’s Hannah’s story:

I had the pleasure of participating in the Young Canada Works program at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.  As a student of history and someone with a large interest in fashion and museums, this was an ideal summer opportunity.  Throughout my twelve week placement, I held the position of Awesomeness Initiator and was tasked with acting as an ambassador to the museum, which involved engaging with and providing information to guests of various demographics.  I also enhanced the visitors’ museum experiences through educational tours and programming.

An average day as the Awesomeness Initiator included serving visitors at the front desk, delivering tours and interactive sessions with our hands-on shoe collection, and leading educational programming for children. However, I also took part in a number of exciting projects.  The beginning of my internship coincided with the opening of our newest temporary exhibition, Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes.  I was given the opportunity to be a docent at the events the museum held for the exhibit’s sponsors.  In addition, I assisted with the installation of a temporary sneaker exhibition, Rare and Original: A Bobbito GarcĂ­a Personal Sneaker Retrospective, that was on display for the summer.

These exciting opportunities were not limited to within the museum walls.  I took part in Sun Life Financial’s Museum + Arts Pass and brought the Bata Shoe Museum’s educational and hands-on programming to various public libraries around Toronto.  In addition to the hands-on activity, I led discussion with the children on the various reasons we wear shoes, their cultural significance, and what shoes are capable of telling us about their wearer.

I also enjoyed visiting the Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York in June. Canadian Indigenous history and footwear are an integral part of the museum's collection and educational programming.  At the festival, we learned about the Moccasin Identifier Project, which uses stenciled images of First Nations’ footwear to promote awareness of our presence on the traditional territory of the Indigenous peoples.  I was even able to use one of the stencils myself!

Perhaps what I enjoyed most about my position at the Bata Shoe Museum was the variety of duties and opportunities that I was able to experience.  I have gained a strong appreciation of museums and their importance in the preservation of culture, as well as their role of dispelling knowledge to the wider public.  My understanding of the necessary components of running a museum has broadened considerably. 

This experience undoubtedly provided me with important skills that will be useful in future employment in the heritage or cultural sector.

-Hannah Bekkers, Awesomeness Initiator

The search is now on for the Museum’s next Awesomeness Initiator! Visit our website to learn more 


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