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

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

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

 

› Rod Naknakim Declaration

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 (UNDRIP). 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 borne 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, but his voice, ideas, friendship, and legacy live on.

We call upon all cultural organizations to embrace the ideals of the Rod Naknakim Declaration, signal your support of building shared visions and partnerships with Indigenous communities, and sign the Rod Naknakim Declaration.

 

Indigenous Advisory Committee Members:

 

  • Dan Smith, Member of the Laich Kwil Tach Nation and Campbell River Indian Band (Committee Chair)
  • Jodi Simkin, BCMA President and Director, Tribal Journeys 2021 Paddle to Tla’amin (Committee Co-Chair)
  • Cathi Charles Wherry, Special Advisor, First People’s Cultural Council
  • Lucy Bell, Head of First Nations and Repatriation, Royal BC Museum
  • c̓ris – Jordan Coble, Councillor, Westbank First Nation
  • Anthony Shelton, Director, Museum of Anthropology at UBC
  • Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, Coordinator at the South Asian Studies Institute, Co-curator at the Sikh Heritage Museum
  • Ray Harris, Member of the Chemainus First Nation
  • Tania Muir, BCMA Past President and Program Director, Cultural Resource Management Program, University of Victoria

 

› Committee Terms of Reference

BCMA Indigenous Advisory Committee – Terms of Reference 2020
Approved by BCMA Council on March 6, 2020

 

Background

The Canadian and British Columbia governments have recognized the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) making a commitment to implement them.

In March 2017, BCMA Council unanimously endorsed the Rod Naknakim Declaration as outlined below:

  • Museums acknowledge the fact that the ownership of First Nations artifacts and remains is in the Indigenous peoples;
  • Acknowledge there is an opportunity for museums to decolonize the museums by partnering with the Indigenous owners;
  • 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;
  • Costs for repatriation of artifacts and remains should not be born by the Indigenous peoples

Museums have played a key role in the collection and interpretation of Indigenous tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and have a responsibility moving forward to ensure compliance with UNDRIP and to respond to the calls to action addressed to museums in the TRC. BC museums, cultural centres and heritage organizations are uniquely positioned to play a key role in reconciliation initiatives.

This work aligns with the BCMA’s mission (“We lead by supporting, empowering and advocating for the BC museum community”); our vision (“The museum community is valued for providing cultural leadership, influence and knowledge to British Columbians”) and our strategic priorities, particularly as a professional hub for the sector.

Mandate

The Committee will support the BCMA to build relationships with Indigenous museums, heritage and cultural centres across British Columbia in order to better understand, support and advocate for these Indigenous stakeholders. In addition, the committee will support the BCMA in the effort to increase cultural competency across the museums sector and promote opportunities for reconciliation and repatriation.

The Committee’s role is to provide governance (oversight) and strategic advice. The Committee does not make decisions at an administrative and operational level. These decisions are supervised and directed by the Executive Director.

Membership/Composition

The Committee consists of a minimum of six members appointed by Council as follows:

  • The Committee is chaired by an Indigenous person who is also a member of BCMA Council or co-chaired by an Indigenous and non-indigenous person
  • The Council president is a member of the Committee;
  • Indigenous peoples who are a BCMA member, are a member or employed by a member organization of the BCMA or otherwise involved in the arts, culture and heritage sector;
  • Non-Indigenous peoples who have expertise or knowledge in Indigenous culture and heritage or are a member or employed by an Indigenous Cultural Centre or organization;
  • The Executive Director is an ex-officio member of the committee and does not have voting rights.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Work in concert with BCMA staff to shape BCMA’s Indigenous Engagement strategy
  • Identify and build relationships with Indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders;
  • Develop an outreach plan and value proposition that encourages First Nations Cultural Centres and other organizations to become BCMA members;
  • Identify and recommend funding sources to support BCMA’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy;
  • Address issues of repatriation and reconciliation within the BCMA community (members and stakeholders) by:
    • Championing the Rod Naknakim Declaration;
    • Providing practical advice and support to BCMA members, including working with BCMA staff to create communication tools that facilitate collaboration and information sharing between members (e.g. email address to reach the Committee for advice, creation of Indigenous interest group);
    • Facilitating reconciliation opportunities by building connections between Indigenous communities and BCMA members.

Reporting

The Indigenous Advisory Committee reports to the BCMA Council. The chair of the Indigenous Advisory Committee is expected to provide a verbal or written report to Council following each advisory committee meeting.

Meeting

The committee meets quarterly. Meetings take place in person or via telephone conferencing with a minimum of one face-to-face meeting annually.

 

› 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 Committee’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) has been working on plans to address recommendations related to museums in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings.

› Province of British Columbia

The provincial government provided $2 million in funding to the Royal BC Museum in 2016 to help return First Nations artifacts to their communities. The activities undertaken by the museum included a provincewide repatriation symposium, a granting program, digital repatriation programs, community work and the creation of Canada’s first repatriation handbook for Indigenous peoples by Indigenous peoples.

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

› Training and Capacity Building for BCMA Members

The integration of the BCMA Indigenous Advisory Committee created 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 modified its existing professional hub programs and initiatives (including the annual Conference, regional workshops, and webinars) 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 is also collaborating with partner organizations including the BC Libraries Association, the Archives Association of BC, and Heritage BC on programming to support the learning needs of our respective members.