The BC Museums Association is proud to receive guidance and support from the BCMA Indigenous Advisory Council.

The BCMA Indigenous Advisory Council is comprised of leaders from BC’s First Nations and from museums that have shown excellence and innovation in working with Indigenous communities.  The council meets quarterly.

The Indigenous Advisory Council is a stand-alone committee with a role to champion the Rod Naknakim Declaration (see below).  The council also services as a resource for BCMA Council and staff.  Of particular importance will be the council’s role in identifying and building relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders to facilitate reconciliation opportunities.

Indigenous Advisory Committee Members:
Dan Smith, Member of the Laich Kwil Tach Nation and Campbell River Indian Band, BCMA Council member (Committee Chair)
Karen Aird, Archaeologist and Cultural Heritage Planner and President, Indigenous Heritage Circle
Lucy Bell, Head of First Nations and Repatriation, Royal BC Museum
Jordan Coble, Cultural and Operations Administrator, Westbank First Nation Sncəwips Heritage Museum
Tracey Herbert, Chief Executive Officer, First People’s Cultural Council
Dr. Anthony Shelton, Director, Museum of Anthropology at UBC

 

Please click the sections below to read more about the documents and initiatives guiding the BCMA and the Indigenous Advisory Council’s reconciliation and sector support work.

Rod Naknakim Declaration

In March 2017, BCMA Council unanimously endorsed the Rod Naknakim Declaration. Rod Naknakim of the We Wai Kai Nation presented at the 2016 BCMA annual conference during the plenary session entitled: “Museums and Canada’s First Nations: A Moral and Legal Obligation – The Colonial Legacy.” During his moving presentation Rod discussed the opportunity for museums, archives and Indigenous peoples to work together to realize the goals set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He suggested four specific steps museums, archives and cultural institutions can take to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples:

  1. Museums acknowledge the fact that the ownership of First Nations artifacts and remains is in the Indigenous peoples;
  2. Acknowledge there is an opportunity for museums to decolonize the museums by partnering with the Indigenous owners;
  3. The new relationship must result in a space in which there is greater respect and effect for Indigenous peoples and a more authentic experience for museum goers;
  4. Costs for repatriation of artifacts and remains should not be born by the Indigenous peoples.

Throughout his presentation Rod acknowledged the challenges and complexities of collaboration, but urged the audience to build relationships and seek out advice as they work toward a shared vision and commitment to Indigenous language, heritage and cultural partnership with First Nations communities. Sadly, Rod passed away on March 9, 2017.

The BCMA is excited to move forward with the Rod Naknakim Declaration in 2017, a year that naturally leads to reflection and looking to the future.  2017 marks the BCMA’s 60th anniversary, as well as the Canada 150th anniversary of confederation.  Reconciliation has been a key theme of both anniversaries.

2017 also saw the BCMA administer the BC | Canada 150: Celebrating BC Communities and their Contributions to Canada grant, which saw a variety of projects from First Nations band councils, cultural centres and museums receive funding.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007. Canada initially voted against it but reversed its position in May 2016. The declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of indigenous peoples. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples.

UNDRIP content and recommendations have been incorporated into the Rod Naknakim Declaration and the Indigenous Advisory Council’s terms of reference.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada began a multi-year process to listen to Survivors, communities and others affected by the Residential School system. The TRC issued a report with calls to action including four items (#67-71) specifically for the museum and archives community. The work of the TRC is now being carried out by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

TRC Calls to Action for museum and archives have been incorporated into the Rod Naknakim Declaration and guide the BCMA’s support of the BC museum sector’s reconciliation work.

The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is working on plans to address recommendations related to museums in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings.

Province of British Columbia

The provincial government announced $2 million in funding in 2016 to help return First Nations artifacts to their communities. The Royal BC Museum will act as a gathering point for returning objects and the First People’s Cultural Council will work closely with the museum to develop a new First Nations department and repatriation program.

The Royal BC Museum’s head of the First Nations department and Repatriation program will sit on the BCMA Indigenous Advisory Council to ensure the committee is closely aligned and working collaboratively with the provincial museum.

Training and Capacity Building for BCMA Members

The integration of the BCMA Indigenous Advisory Council creates an excellent opportunity for the BCMA to provide leadership to its member museums by providing tools and resources that help build relationships with First Nations communities and address issues of repatriation and reconciliation in their institutions and communities.  The BCMA is modifying existing “Professional Hub” programs and initiatives (including Conference, regional workshops, webinars and the mentorship program) to integrate First Nations content with a focus on meaningful and practical ways BCMA members can develop relationships with First Nations and contribute to reconciliation and repatriation efforts.

The BCMA will also collaborate with partner organizations including the BC Library Association, Archives Association of BC, and Heritage BC on programming to support the learning needs of our respective members.