Jay Stewart's Biography

Jay Stewart has been active in the heritage and culture fields in British Columbia since the mid 1970s. She served as executive director of the Campbell River Museum for 18 years. During this period Jay led the museum through a successful process of planning and building the new 21,000 square foot Campbell River Museum centre which opened in spring 1994.

In 1996 she formed the consulting firm of Stewart Macnair Inc. and was joined in the company by partner Peter Macnair in 1997. Since then they have collaborated on several research projects and two major exhibitions.

From July 1997 until June 1998 Stewart assisted Peter Macnair and Chief Robert Joseph, curators for the exhibition Down From the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast. In 1999 Stewart and Macnair curated To the Totem Forests: Emily Carr and Contemporaries Interpret Coastal Villages, and wrote the associated catalogue and website.

During the past twenty years Stewart has worked closely with First Nations elders, artists, students and chiefs. She initiated teaching collections of contemporary artifacts, outreach programs, artifact loans and services to families for traditional ceremonies including potlatches. She also established museum ethical policy regarding inclusion and responsibilities to aboriginal communities, providing guidance for other institutions.

For university and museum extension programs Stewart has planned and delivered unique fieldstudy opportunities which explore the history and cultures of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Ranging from three to seven days, the programs involve Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth elders and artists as resource people. With the permission of First Nations cultural and political authorities, participants visit traditional village sites and other cultural locales.

Jay Stewart has served on many committees of the B.C. Museums Association, Canadian Museums Association, Association for State and Local History and has participated in an advisory capacity to several levels of government including the Museums Assistance program, Cultural Services Branch programs and Consultations '85: The Future of Museums In Canada, advisory conference to the Minister of Communications. She has broad experience as a speaker at conferences, community events, and professional development courses.

Stewart served two terms on the Advisory Council for Co-operative Education of the University of Victoria, the Advisory Committee for Museums and Visual Arts for the Cultural Services Branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Recreation and Culture and two terms on the Council for the B.C. Museums Association, one of those as Membership Secretary.

In April 1996 Stewart was appointed to the first British Columbia Arts Council under the chairmanship of Mavor Moore; she served a second term which ended in 1999.

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