BCMA’s Brain offers a collection of resources suitable for Indigenous communities, cultural centres and museums of all shapes and sizes.

Help keep our collective Brain active and growing by sharing your ideas for new resources and innovative practices here.


For Indigenous Communities

Indigenous Repatriation Handbook (Royal BC Museum handbook, 2019)

Indigenous Access & Engagement (Museum of Anthropology)

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) places a high priority on ensuring that access to collections is provided for originating community members, researchers and members of the public. Learn more on the MOA website.


RBC Indigenous Internship Program

The RBC Indigenous Internship Program offers professional and technical training for First Nations, Métis and Inuit participants. It is the only program of its kind in Canada. The goal of the Program is to develop ways for Indigenous nations across Canada to represent their own history and culture in concert with cultural institutions. Learn more on their website.


Indigenous Youth Ambassador Program

The Indigenous Youth Ambassador (IYA) program is an immersive cultural and business program that teaches the foundations of business through the lens of a First Nations Museum. This twelve week paid training includes placement in the Food & Beverage, Retail, and Cultural Delivery departments. Learn more on their website.


Indigenous Leadership Programs (Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)
Indigenous Leadership and Management programs at Banff Centre provide leaders an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to establish a strategic direction for their communities and organizations, implement that plan through focused effort, and measure performance.



Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) 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.


BCMA Indigenous Advisory Committee

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

Rod Naknakim Declaration (BCMA, 2017)

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 (UN General Assembly, 2007)

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.


Royal BC Museum Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department Resources

Report on Gatherings on Indigenous Cultural Heritage (Parks Canada and Indigenous Heritage Circle, 2019) – This resource, although written specifically for Parks Canada, shares general information about caring for Indigenous collections (page 18), sharing Indigenous stories (page 16) and tips from Indigenous participants on how to work better together (page 22)

Canadian Museums Association Recommendations

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (Canadian Museums Association (CMA) resolution from the 2019 Annual General Meeting – NOTE:  All museums are encouraged to embrace this statement and policy position which includes acknowledgement of the unjust treatment of Indigenous communities.


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


“Decolonizing the Museum Mind.”  Blog post by Frank Howarth,  Director of the Australian Museum from 2004 to 2014. (American Alliance of Museums, October 2018)

A Guide to the Pronunciation of Indigenous Communities and Organizations in BC from the September 2018 Guide to Aboriginal Organizations and Services in British Columbia.

Indigenous Languages in Canada: What you need to know. (McIvor, O.  CCUNESCO. 2018)


Case studies from the field

Roundup (Issue 274): Reconciliation and Repatriation: Current Projects and Future Visions (BCMA, Winter 2019)

“How one museum is repatriating Indigenous artifacts.” Radio interview with Lou-Ann Neel, Royal BC Museum Repatriation Specialist. (CBC’s Unreserved program, June 2019. 15:15 minutes)

“A Roundup of Decolonization News.” (Centre for the Future of Museums blog, October 2018)

The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin partnered with residential school survivors in a new exhibit about the history of St. Joseph’s Mission residential school.

Hodul’eh-a: A Place of Learning – The Exploration Place, Lheidli T’enneh, and the Rethinking of a Local Museum (BC Studies, no. 199, Autumn 2018)


Research and Reports

Recognizing and Including Indigenous Cultural Heritage in B.C. (2019)

This First Peoples’ Cultural Council policy paper is the first policy paper on Indigenous Cultural Heritage that has been produced by, and for, Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The policy paper and recommendations will serve to help safeguard Indigenous Cultural Heritage and is relevant to all.

Policy paper

Policy paper fact sheet




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