Throughout 2020 we have seen resignations and dismissals of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) from museums, galleries, and cultural organizations across the country, that shine a spotlight on the racism and discrimination that are commonplace in Canada’s cultural sector. The Globe and Mail article published on September 12th regarding Lucy Bell’s experiences at the Royal BC Museum clearly shows that discrimination is as much a reality in British Columbia’s cultural sector as it is in the rest of Canada.

The mandate of the BC Museums Association (BCMA) states that we exist to provide “a unified voice for the institutions, trustees, professional staff and volunteers.” Let us now clearly and unequivocally use that voice – racism and discrimination are unacceptable. As a sector, as organizations, and as individuals we must prioritize eliminating systemic racism and discrimination by devoting time, effort, and funding to address these injustices.

We recognize that racism is pervasive in our field and in our society, but we are also keenly aware that the BCMA lacks the experience and diversity to be a voice that can speak on behalf of those who face discrimination. While we cannot speak on behalf of BIPOC museum professionals, we can provide our unwavering support and belief, and a platform to amplify these critical voices. To help the BCMA provide a platform for new voices and to expand our organization’s diversity and expertise we are dedicated to creating new opportunities for BIPOC professionals to join our team and our Council. In the coming weeks we will have updates to share about new opportunities to lend your voice and work with the BCMA.

We also encourage all museum professionals to join our Virtual Conference next week where we have opportunities to explore how BC’s cultural sector can support diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism:

  • Thursday, October 8, 11am-12pm: Beyond the Black Squares: A Meaningful Conversation on Museums and Allyship
    • This panel – a bold, honest and meaningful conversation led by IBPOC museum professionals across Canada will reflect on the ongoing race revolution around the world, the unsilencing of racism within white-led institutions and specific calls to action on how museums can become true allies. Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, Sdaahl Ḵ’awaas Lucy Bell, 方靜怡 Denise Fong, and Armando Perla will share their range of experiences and truths, but through those experiences offer meaningful solutions to museums and museum leaders.
  • Thursday, October 8, 1-2pm: A Conversation on Decolonization
    • Taking steps to decolonize your institution’s practices requires time, empathy, relationship building, and emotional investment. Join Ta7talíya Nahanee and Chepximiya Siyam’ Chief Janice George for a facilitated discussion of how you can take meaningful steps to improve your practices no matter where you are in your decolonizing journey.
  • Roundup Issue 279: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in BC’s Cultural Sector (Coming Soon)
    • This issue will highlight diverse voices, perspectives, stories, and experiences from across the province and asks contributors for their straightforward and honest recommendations on how museums, galleries, and other culture and heritage organizations can work to become spaces of activism, inclusion, and better represent their communities.

The work to support BIPOC members of our community and to support our partners and members to dismantle colonial systems of oppression to transform our sector to truly support diversity and inclusion will take time. If you have suggestions or feedback on our work, or ways we can improve our practices, please contact us (bcma@museumsassn.bc.ca) and share your voice. We will continue to update the Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion page of our website with new resources and opportunities as they are developed.

If you are interested in learning about other organizations and groups in Canada working to improve our sector, here are links to learn more: