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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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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)
The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is working on plans to address recommendations related to museums in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings.
Indigenous Repatriation Handbook (Royal BC Museum handbook, 2019)
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.
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.
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.