Canadian Museums Association Urges Repatriation of Indigenous Objects
A major new report released on Tuesday, September 27 by the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) calls for greater support and funding for Indigenous organizations and museums as they pursue Indigenous “self-determination” at all levels of governance.
The CMA estimates that 6.7 million Indigenous objects and human remains
continue to be held in Canadian museums, with approximately 94% of them
held in eight institutions. The report finds that few museums have
formal repatriation policies and that even fewer of them are publicly
accessible. Currently, only one province, Alberta, has repatriation
legislation. The report also finds that although many museums showcase
Indigenous-related programming and say they value Indigenous engagement,
Indigenous curators and staff members are underrepresented, suggesting
that Indigenous professionals are often slotted into advisory roles.
The report, entitled “Moved to Action: Activating UNDRIP in Canadian Museums,” was commissioned as part of the nation’s response to Call to Action 67, one of 94 calls to action issued in 2015 by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was established to reckon with Canada’s history of Indian residential schools, which forcibly separated Indigenous children from their communities for purposes of assimilation.