VICTORIA, BC–The work of repatriation—the return of Indigenous objects and Ancestral remains from museums to home communities—is challenging, essential and often fraught with uncertainty for Indigenous communities across BC, if not the world.
Recognizing the dearth of handy, comprehensive and detailed reference materials for Indigenous communities engaged in this process, the Royal BC Museum has published the Indigenous Repatriation Handbook, a collaboration of the Royal BC Museum and the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay.
The authors are Jisgang Nika Collison, Executive Director and Curator at the Haida Gwaii Museum at Kay Llnagaay and a member of the Royal BC Museum Board of Directors; Sdaahl K’awaas Lucy Bell, Head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation Department at the Royal BC Museum; and Lou-ann Neel, Repatriation Specialist at the Royal BC Museum.
“Healing and reconciliation are difficult challenges for society, requiring redress and action,” said Prof. Jack Lohman CBE, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “Through this handbook, the Royal BC Museum acknowledges the role it can take in providing guidance, identifying best practices and simply supporting the work of Indigenous communities as they embark upon this hugely important work.”
“Respectfully repatriating ancestral remains and cultural belongings is essential for true and lasting reconciliation,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “I applaud the Royal BC Museum for their leadership in advancing this important work and thank everyone who contributed for their dedication and effort. I hope this handbook becomes a valuable resource to communities around the province, across Canada and the world in undertaking repatriation.”
The handbook, the first created by and for Indigenous peoples, provides practical information that is intended to help Indigenous communities in BC carry out the process of repatriation in ways that align with each community’s respective cultural traditions.
The Indigenous Repatriation Handbook also provides information that will be helpful to museums and to Indigenous communities across Canada.
The 174-page colour handbook, retailing for 29.95, is available through local bookshops, the Royal Museum Shop and online at publications.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca. The PDF is free for downloading at rbcm.ca/repatriationbook.