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Salish Sea Sentinel | September 18, 2020

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B.C. allocates $500K for Indigenous repatriation grants

B.C. allocates $500K for Indigenous repatriation grants

Above: Indigenous belongings at the Museum of Anthropology. File photo.

A range of new grants will soon be available to assist First Nations to repatriate ancestral remains and cultural objects. 

The provincial government has announced it is providing $500,000 to the BC Museums Association to support communities at different stages of the repatriation process. 

The funding will be open to First Nations and related organizations to plan, build and implement repatriation projects. 

Jodi Simkin, the president of BC Museums Association, said First Nations throughout B.C. are eager to have important objects and remains repatriated. 

Simkin also works with Klahoose First Nation as its director of culture and heritage. She took a leading role in Klahoose’s worldwide repatriation project “ʔi:mot tətᶿ kʷənome (it’s good to see you): The Journey Home,” which was first launched in the spring of 2018. 

“This funding demonstrates a commitment to helping achieve this important and essential step in the reconciliation process,” Simkin said in a statement. 

The new grants are part of $2-million in total funding from the province to the Royal BC Museum over three years for repatriation activities.  

“The activities 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,” a statement from the province said. 

Over the years, many important cultural objects and remains have been taken from Indigenous communities and are now in museum or private collections around the world. In many cases, the onus is on the communities to track down these items and try to get them back. 

Royal BC Museum CEO Jack Lohman said it’s important for the museum to build its credibility with Indigenous communities by continuing to assist in these ventures. 

“I am delighted we can continue to act as a catalyst for the return of ancestors, treasures and belongings and help address the legacy of unresolved grief in Indigenous communities across B.C.,” he said in a statement. 

Applications for the grants are expected to open online on Sept. 8 at http://museumsassn.bc.ca/repatriation-grants.