When Huu-ay-aht First Nations finalized the Maa-nulth Treaty, one of the most exciting opportunities it outlined was a plan to bring cultural treasures home from BC museums.
On May 17, the Province of BC and the BC Museums Association announced the 2020 Repatriation Grant recipients. Huu-ay-aht is one of 25 Nations to receive a grant. The Nation will receive $35,000 of the $454,000 grant to fund repatriation research and activities announced this week.
“We celebrated together in 2016 as we watched as many of our cultural treasures were returned,” explains Councillor Edward R. Johnson. “Our history was extracted from us, and this is about bringing back a little bit of our history, one piece at a time, knowing that our treasures are scattered all over the world.”
He added, this is a key part of recognizing the past and that Huu-ay-aht’s ancestors and treasures need to come home.
“We are just scratching the surface of reconciliation by bringing some of our treasures home,” he said.
The grant will be used to identify and catalogue the items the Nation wants repatriated from the Royal BC Museum. These will join the items previously returned in the Cultural Centre.
Throughout the history of Canada, Indigenous peoples have had their belongings, language, culture, and even ancestors taken from them and housed in museums, universities, and private collections across the world. For decades, Indigenous leaders have worked tirelessly to support the return of their communities’ ancestors and cultural patrimony.
Through the 2020 Repatriation Grants, the BCMA and the BC government are taking a critical step in reconciliation and supporting this work. These grants are funded through the B.C. government’s $500,000 investment in 2020.
“These items were bought or taken from our ancestors, and it’s time that we bring them home where they belong,” explained Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “The effort made by the province and the museum shows respect for our history and reconciliation in action. It honours our our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (utmost respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one) and ensure future generations do not have to go to a museum to experience their history.” A full list of the recipients and the details of the grants can be found at this link.