Museums and Archives

Calls to Action

Call to Action # 67Funding for national review of museum policies & best practices
Call to Action # 68National funding program to commemorate Canada 150
Call to Action # 69Library and Archives Canada to fully adopt & implement UNDRIP
Call to Action # 70Funding for national review of archival policies and best practices

Current Problems and Issues

Reports of systemic racism and toxic working conditions within the Royal BC Museum

Jan. 26, 2021: The First Nations Leadership Council – FNLC is disturbed by several recent media reports outlining ongoing systemic racism and toxic working conditions within the Royal BC Museum (RBCM), a crown corporation established under the Museum Act (2003). Lucy Bell, former head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation department, who, in an outgoing farewell speech noted many instances of racist attitudes and actions within the RBCM during her three-year tenure, which resulted in her decision to leave for her own well-being and cultural safety. Her comments led to a third- party diversity and inclusion survey which prompted many other staff members to voice concerns over pervasive personal and systemic racism within the RBCM. A formal Public Service Agency investigation was also instigated and has yet to be completed.

The RCBM is a public institution that touts itself as “one of Canada’s greatest cultural treasures,” that “through the vast collections, tells the stories of British Columbia in ways that enlighten, stimulate and inspire.” In order to accomplish this, the RBCM must tell the stories of BC’s colonial and racist past – it should not and must not be a representative example of racism that still exists in our society today.

The only way to rid our society of racism is to take collective actions to stimulate real and tangible change in all systems, especially public institutions such as the RBCM. The Province and RBCM must foster inclusivity, equity and respect for all persons. The FNLC urges the timely completion of the investigation underway as soon as possible so that the provincial government can take all necessary actions to properly address and stamp out the systemic racism and improve the working environment at RBCM.

Outdated profiles of Canadian Prime Ministers on Library and Archives Canada’s website

Oct. 13, 2020: Toronto Star–Library and Archives Canada’s website excludes important information from the biographies of some of Canada’s first Prime Ministers. John A MacDonald’s profile does not mention the words “Indigenous” or “residential schools” or “Chinese head tax”. As the main architect of the now infamous Indian Residential School system, the discriminatory policies of the Indian Act and the forced assimilation of Indigenous people, MacDonald laid the foundations for the “cultural genocide” against Indigenous people for which Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the government of Canada on June 11, 2008.  

it really is a whitewashing of history that has contributed to the ongoing colonialism” said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society”…”It misleads another generation of children and young people into believing the mythology of Canada instead of its truth”. “Canada is still failing to acknowledge that ‘truth’ part of ‘truth and reconciliation’” said Jennifer Brandt, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Education…”By continuing to erase this deep and troubled history from Canadian consciousness, we can’t really move forward with reconciliation.”

June 10, 2021: Library and Archives Canada – With respect to the Canadian Confederation and Prime Minister biography pages, this content was immediately placed in an archived section of the LAC website as soon as issues were raised in October 2020. Each page was clearly marked with a disclaimer at the top indicating that it did not correspond to Government of Canada standards and that it included information and content that had not been updated.

According to the Toronto Star article on June 5, 2021 “yet nearly eight months after the Star highlighted the MacDonald biography…the profile remains unchanged on the government website, as does the Confederation web page.”

The archived pages were slated for removal in late June 2021. However, in light of recent media coverage that led to additional concerns being expressed by Canadians, the removal date was moved up, and the work has now been completed.


Interim Report of the independent third-party review of Canadian Museum of Human Rights identifies systemic racism within museum

Aug. 5, 2020 – Canadian Museum for Human Rights has released the interim report of the independent third-party review into allegations of systemic racism and other forms of oppression within the Museum. Harris’ report identifies systemic racism within the Museum which has had a negative physical, emotional and financial impact on employees who are Black, Indigenous or People of Colour. It also identifies instances of sexism, heterosexism and homophobia within the organization.

The Board of Trustees recently formed a Diversity and Inclusion Committee led by Trustee Julie Jai. The Board will also be reviewing the Museum’s five-year strategic plan to prioritize diversity and inclusion goals and developing metrics to measure progress. “We will create and implement policies and procedures that cover all aspects of the Museum’s work,” added Julie Jai. “We have an opportunity to transform the Museum into a workplace that practices anti-racism and rejects all forms of oppression, including sexism, heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia. With sustained effort, the Museum will emerge much stronger for it.”

The Board welcomes the findings and is taking immediate action to implement the five recommendations pertaining to the Board. (Prior to receiving the report, the Board of Trustees created a new Diversity and Inclusion Committee).

The five recommendations to be implemented immediately are:

  1. Diversity and Inclusion Committee to require not fewer than one Black person, one Indigenous person and one person who identifies as LGTBQ2+ at all times, in addition to members of additional equity groups;
  2. All board policies approved to date and future board policies will undergo a thorough analysis to screen for bias, and to ensure that board policies promote, and support equity;
  3. All members of the Board of Trustees engage in ongoing anti-racist and anti-oppression education, both by way of self-learning and through scheduled training sessions;
  4. The Board of Trustees set goals for the Chief Executive Officer to promote a culture of equity, inclusion and accountability within the Museum; and
  5. The Board of Trustees require the Chief Executive Officer to engage in meaningful community relations with Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities, and to ensure meaningful community relations with transgender/gender diverse and Two-Spirit communities in particular.

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