First Nations peoples wanting their ancestral remains and cultural objects returned will soon have access to financial support through the BC Museums Association.

The provincial government is providing $500,000 to the BC Museums Association to provide a range of grants to support communities at different stages of the repatriation process.

First Nations communities and organizations will be eligible for grants to support repatriation planning, building capacity to take on repatriation projects and encouraging collaboration with cultural organizations.

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is clear: Indigenous peoples have a right to the repatriation of cultural objects and remains of their ancestors,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

“We’re supporting this important work with First Nations because we know that returning ancestral remains and cultural belongings is essential for true and lasting reconciliation.”

These grants follow the province’s $2-million investment over three years to the Royal BC Museum for repatriation activities.

The activities included a provincewide repatriation symposium, a granting program, digital repatriation programs, community work and the creation of Canada’s first repatriation handbook for Indigenous peoples by Indigenous peoples.

Dan Smith, chair of the BCMA Indigenous Advisory Committee and member of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in Campbell River says the money is a big step for reconciliation.

“This funding allows museums, archives and Indigenous peoples new opportunities to work together towards decolonization and realizing the goals set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. True, meaningful and lasting reconciliation must include the return of Indigenous culture back to Indigenous communities.”

The announcement comes as Canada celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day today.

To learn more, visit the Government of British Columbia’s website.