A Focus for Change

Acknowledging the Past to Build a Better Future

As British Columbias museum and archives, we should be a safe, inclusive and welcoming place for every British Columbian.  But over the years, our organization has made people feel unwanted, disrespected and unheard.

We are sorry. We will do better. We are committed to making changes and are following a comprehensive plan to ensure our actions align with our values.

A Continuous Journey

The Royal BC Museum commits to a continuous journey of greater equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility.

Through training, dialogue and engagement that includes cultural groups and traditional and self-identified communities across the province, we are working to create a more inclusive museum for everyone.

We realize that we need to take a hard look at the past and present before we can be a truly inclusive place.

This means acknowledging the history of the museum (and museum practices) as much as the history of the peoples of this province.

The stories the museum is tasked with sharing have always been complex.

In them, the ongoing struggles for survival and self-determination of both the Indigenous peoples of this land and later arrivals from diverse cultures around the world are shaped by the historical and ongoing injustices of colonialism and oppression.

These stories are inextricably interconnected. And they must be continually examined and reframed as we work together to create a new story of reconciliation.

We are committed to sharing these interconnected stories, especially when they offer different perspectives of history. It’s one aspect of how (and why) we’re modernizing the entire museum.

There is considerable diversity in how the individuals and groups who share this province understand, experience and express themselves. The museum recognizes and values diversity and equity and is committed to ensuring all people within British Columbia, but especially those who have been left out of our storytelling, are respected, supported and have a voice.

This is a challenge, but we also see it an enormous opportunity, for which we are grateful.

After all, we are entrusted by the people of British Columbia to help document and share their historical stories. In the 134 years since the museum was founded, many of these stories have changed, as have those who tell them.

So too with those who frame how these stories are told.

Culture Shift

To accelerate the evolution of the culture of the museum and modernize our practices, we have developed a comprehensive training plan—one that invests in museum staff by tackling issues of inclusion and discrimination. We have included detailed timelines for this plan below.

The Royal BC Museum is deeply committed to working with communities to repatriate Indigenous belongings and ancestral remains, adhering to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. To achieve this, we must realize our vision of a culturally safe and inclusive future.

A Modernized Museum

The Royal BC Museum will be a world-leading museum and gathering place that invites the public to learn with their minds and their senses—not as spectators, but as full participants in the life of the museum, democratizing knowledge and the experience of discovery.

The museum will continue to work with Indigenous communities on repatriation.   We will ensure Indigenous voices are heard and included, and will ensure the interpretation of Indigenous cultures is led by Indigenous communities.

We will seek out diverse perspectives on BC identity—especially underrepresented voices—broadening historical narratives and fostering inclusivity.

Planning for Change

To address the need for culture change, we will focus on modernizing our practices along with the buildings and include more diverse voices in the museum and archives.

Policies and Procedures

We are updating our policies and procedures based on input from external experts and people from equity-seeking groups.  This work will continue through much of 2021 and will help identify gaps and opportunities for improvement and change.

To ensure the museum’s progress towards greater equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility endures, we will be monitoring our progress and change through a number of avenues, including but not limited to:

  • Staff and visitor surveys.
  • Informal check-ins with staff teams.
  • Staff engagement in both mandatory and optional training programs.
  • Dialogue with and feedback from community groups.
  • Review and monitor the volume and type of concerns raised by staff at all levels, as well as by volunteers and visitors.

Training

The Royal BC Museum is implementing a thorough training plan from equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility consultant Alden Habacon and his team at Inclusive Excellence Strategy Solutions Inc., to ensure staff at all levels have the tools to support a positive and inclusive culture.

Executive Training Timeline: Year 1 

February 2021 Executive Committee Interviews
March 2021 Executive Workshop 1
Executive workshop 2
April 2021 Bi-Weekly Coaching

All-Staff Training Timeline: Year 1

April–May 2021 Professional Communication 101
May 2021 Trust-Building 101: How to Foster Trust Within a Team
May–June 2021 Psychological Safety
June–July 2021 Micro-Agressions
July 2021 Intercultural Skills: Part 1
August–September 2021 Whiteness at Work
September 2021 Intercultural Skills: Part 2
September–November 2021 Unconscious Bias
December 2021 Allyship
Throughout 2021

Supplemental BC Public Service Agency courses:

  • Building a Respectful Workplace for Supervisors and Staff
  • Mindful Communications and Listening
  • Leading Workplace Change
  • Discrimination Prevention Workshop
  • Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
  • Introduction to Gender Based Analysis Plus
  • Building Capacity in Indigenous Relations:
    We Are All Here to Stay
  • Understanding, Co-creating Communities,
    Allies and Allyship
  • Territory Acknowledgements

Resourcing the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation (ICAR) Department

To reinforce the centrality of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act to the work of the museum and archives, the plan calls for the museum to:

  • Prioritize additional resources to the ICAR department.
  • Introduce Indigenous cultural advisors and knowledge keepers into key areas of the museum and archives.
  • Increase lines of communication, and integrate a governance structure, with the Indigenous Advocacy and Advisory Committee.
  • Support further work toward repatriation and decolonization.

The museum will continually review the needs of the ICAR department to identify and address additional areas that require support. 

Supporting Modernization

The BC government has committed to modernizing the Royal BC Museum, which includes modernization of practice as well as infrastructure. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to better tell the stories of all communities in British Columbia. Modernizing how we preserve our past will help build a better future for everyone in the province.

Evident in everything we do will be the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and natural sciences. Additionally, we will engage with a broad range of cultural, religious, traditional and self-identified communities to add their voices as we explore pressing global challenges from a uniquely BC perspective. Topics will include the unprecedented environmental and humanitarian challenges of the 21st century.

The Royal BC Museum will become a provincial network of local and global institutions including museums, archives, cultural centres, educational institutions and government. Partners will collaborate across this network to develop best practice, produce and share content, create programs and exhibitions, and connect with people in their homes and communities.

The museum will recognize and value diversity and equity and make a concerted effort to ensure the inclusion of varied and underrepresented populations, meaning that individuals must be and feel valued, respected and equally supported.

Organizational Structure

In November 2020 the board directed that an in-depth review of the Royal BC Museum’s organizational structure be undertaken and that a new structure be proposed. In February 2021 an interim structure was finalized and has been incorporated into this plan.

The interim organization structure commits to:

  • Being purposeful at the executive level to put the emphasis on the importance of community engagement, equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility and human resource work across the organization.
  • Ensuring equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility are kept at the forefront as a focus of the organization.
  • Permanently embedding equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility into culture, driving it at all levels.
  • Enhancing community engagement and partnerships.

Acting Chief Executive Officer/Chair of the Board
Daniel Muzyka

Vice President, Inclusion and Community Engagement and Deputy CEO
Mischelle vanThiel

  • Portfolio: EDIA, Human Resources, Change Management, Community Engagement, Learning, Publishing, Partnerships, Philanthropy and Volunteer Services.

Acting Vice President, Collections and Research
David Alexander

  • Portfolio: Archives, Indigenous Collections and Repatriation, Knowledge (natural and human history), Registration, Conservation, Preservation and Access.

Acting Executive Financial Officer and Vice President, Corporate Finance
Marcus Barthropp 

  • Portfolio: Finance, Corporate Records, Legal Services, Corporate Secretary, Information Management.

Acting Vice President, Museum Operations
Erika Stenson

  • Portfolio: Marketing, Communications, Business Development, IMAX Victoria, Property Management Office, Security, Information Technology and Innovative Technologies, Exhibitions, Visitor Experience; VP responsible for the modernization project.

Next Steps

The museum and archives are just at the beginning of this continuous journey.

So, what comes next? The Royal BC Museum will:

  1. Develop a formal equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility strategy, setting goals and priorities organization-wide.
  2. Continue to provide training at all levels through 2021/22.
  3. Schedule discussions with staff at all levels to provide input into our next steps.
  4. Establish an equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility committee with members from external and internal communities.
  5. Build on strengths to deliver our mandate and our priorities around the museum modernization project.
  6. Develop employee resource groups.
  7. Examine and optimize policies to support the equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility strategy.
  8. Implement new recruitment strategies to attract employees with diverse backgrounds.
  9. Expand community engagement programs around the modernization project.

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