The Royal BC Museum’s work supporting repatriation from museums across the world to Indigenous communities is an institutional priority, particularly given the museum’s extensive First Nations collections and long history of partnering with Indigenous communities in British Columbia.
For the Royal BC Museum, facilitating repatriation requests is a matter of ethical integrity and deep-rooted cultural respect; for decades the museum has willingly been part of the collaborative process of returning materials from its collection back to Indigenous communities whenever requested.
On April 10, 2018, the Royal BC Museum, under the direction of CEO Professor Jack Lohman CBE, took a significant step forward on this front, announcing a new granting program for Indigenous communities in BC that are (or planned to become) engaged in the work of repatriating belongings and ancestors from cultural institutions across the globe.
The grants disbursed by the Royal BC Museum provide financial assistance to help with a wide range of repatriation activities, including consultation, research, documentation, travel and repatriation itself. It is open to all types of repatriation, from ancestral remains and burial items to intangible cultural heritage, such as songs, stories and language recordings.
The Government of the Province of British Columbia, Canada, which in 2016 allocated $2M to the Royal BC Museum to develop a First Nations department and repatriation program, made the grants possible, with a total of $500,000 from the original government funding available for successful applicants.
Applications were reviewed by Royal BC Museum staff for completeness and clarity before the Grant Committee of the Royal British Columbia Museum’s First Nations Advisory and Advocacy Committee (FNAAC) reviewed the submissions and identified the successful applicants.
There are two dozen successful applicants engaged in repatriation projects this year. That is a lot of repatriation.
For more information, please see https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/first-nations/first-nations-repatriation/grant.