Royal BC Museum Awards Grants to 21 Indigenous Communities for Repatriation Projects


The following is excerpted from a release issued by the Royal BC Museum.

After reviewing numerous strong submissions for its repatriation grant program, the Royal BC Museum’s Indigenous Advisory and Advocacy Committee (IAAC) is pleased to announce that funding will be granted to 21 First Nations communities from across BC to support their work in repatriation.

The successful applicants will use the grants to support a host of repatriation activities, ranging from establishing planning committees to facilitating the return of ancestral remains to home communities.

“Museums around the world, including the Royal BC Museum, have a moral obligation to support Indigenous communities engaged in repatriation,” said Prof. Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “Providing this financial support for repatriation projects across the province is one way for this museum to put its full institutional weight behind reconciliation efforts.”

“Our government is committed to reconciliation with First Nations, and repatriation is an essential part of that commitment,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “This funding is an important part of the work being done to advance cultural reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in communities throughout our province.”

A total of $586,160 will be distributed among the successful applicants, which are First Nations communities, cultural societies and associations, and museum societies.

The K’òmoks First Nation, for example, will employ the funding to build a community grave house, build a database for repatriated items, construct cedar burial boxes, establish a repatriation committee and conduct cultural ceremonies. And the Tsleil-Waututh Nation will use the funds to develop a Repatriation Policy and repatriate Ancestral remains (the "Little Lady" from Simon Fraser University).

The repatriation grant program is the first of its kind in Canada and is an important part of the ongoing collaboration between the Royal BC Museum and Indigenous communities throughout BC to address the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the direction provided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Although all 25 application submissions were compelling, only those that met the strict criteria of the program terms were awarded funding. The IAAC referred unsuccessful applicants to other potential funding sources.

The repatriation grant program was made possible through the Province of BC’s investment of $2M to the Royal BC Museum in 2016 to develop a First Nations department and repatriation program.

More information about the program, including a list of recipients and their project goals, is available here.

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