MLA Olsen: Repatriation efforts a positive step, additional work to be done to return Ancestors and culturally significant items to Indigenous communities

September 21, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for Indigenous relations and reconciliation, responded to the news that the Royal B.C. Museum has awarded grants to 21 First Nations communities to support ongoing repatriation efforts.

“Communities pursuing repatriation face substantive challenges. It can take several decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring ancestors or culturally significant items home. It is often someone’s lifetime work and sometimes people pass away before it is completed. That needs to change,” said Olsen.

“In addition to investing in the protection and restoration of Indigenous languages, supporting repatriation efforts is one of the most important ways that the BC government can show it is serious about reconciliation.

“I am pleased to hear that 21 First Nations communities have been awarded financial support for this work. This approach has the right goal, but I will continue to advocate for ways we can do even better. Many communities would like to do this work but still lack the capacity, funding, or technical resources necessary to make it happen - especially when their history has been taken by facilities around the world.

“We need to expand the research and technical capacity available to Indigenous communities through institutions such as the RBCM. If we establish an office that Indigenous communities can go to for assistance, they can leverage their expertise and connections with other museums to advance the efforts far more efficiently than each Nation can do on their own.

“I would like to express my respect for the work that the Royal BC Museum has done on repatriation so far and hope that this process will become more accessible for Indigenous communities. I look forward to a future in which the culturally significant items and Ancestral remains have been returned to their rightful homes.”

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