On Monday, September 28th, Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra (Sharn) officially resigned from the BC Museums Association’s (BCMA) Council. As an expert in critical race theory, as the first Sikh/Punjabi woman in the Council’s 70+ year history, and as a vocal champion of anti-racism within the museum sector, Sharn’s resignation is a tremendous loss to the BCMA.
Repeatedly in 2020 the resignations and dismissals of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) professionals at Canadian cultural institutions demonstrate that colonial legacies and practices are still a part of the fabric of our sector. Sharn urged the BCMA to speak out against racist and discriminatory practices within the museum sector and, as an organization, we failed. We failed to effectively communicate, to make a critical statement in a timely fashion, and most importantly, we failed to work together in a way that ensured that everyone left feeling respected and valued.
The BC Museums Association condemns racism, discrimination, and oppression in all forms, and we pledge to work to support equity, diversity, and inclusion both as an organization and within our sector. A critical part of this work is being open, honest, and transparent about our shortcomings and to speak publicly about how we can improve.
This experience has shown just how far the BCMA must go to truly promote equity, diversity, and inclusion within its organizational practices and culture. Creating an inclusive culture goes beyond making statements and adopting pledges, it requires effort, action, and honesty. Through this statement we hope to be honest and to own our failures. The next steps, effort and action, will take time, but in the coming weeks, months, and years, we hope to demonstrate to our community that our pledge transcends words and platitudes.
To Sharn, we would like to publicly apologize to you. Thank you for everything you have contributed to the BCMA and for your critical work in organizing and moderating the Beyond the Black Squares panel at our upcoming virtual conference.
Ryan Hunt, Executive Director & the Council of the BC Museums Association