Museums & Heritage

Canadian Museums Association launches $1m programme to recognise indigenous culture

The initiative is part of a broader reconciliation effort by the government

In 2017, the National Gallery of Canada opened it Canadian and Indigenous Galleries, showing the full span of human culture in the country Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada

The Canadian Museums Association (CMA), which includes around 2,600 member institutions, announced on Tuesday that it will be awarding more than $1m to a programme that aims at reconciliation and collaboration with indigenous groups. The initiative comes out of a broader movement across Canada to repair relations with First Nations communities following a 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the damage caused by the residential school system. “It’s time to push the reset button,” the president of the CMA, Karen Bachmann, said at a press event.

Gary Anandasangaree, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, explained the initiative as “a national review of museum policies… in collaboration with indigenous peoples across Canada”. The programme will organise workshops, online learning modules, a national museum-worker bursary, reports and publications. Funding will come from the government’s Museums Assistance Program (MAP).

“As First Nations, we all have a story to tell… about loss,” said Elder Carolyn King, the former chief of the Mississaugas of Credit Nation, at the event, adding that one goal is for better representation of indigenous culture in Canadian museums. “We’re looking to add our story to these buildings. I’m hoping that our story will get told.”

“We have long called for the need that our voices be heard,” said Sarah Pashagumskum of the Reconciliation Program Council and the Cree Cultural Institute of northern Quebec. “We will bring indigenous voices to the forefront, a repatriation of indigenous culture.”