Norval Morrisseau, Artist and Shaman between Two Worlds, 1980, acrylic on canvas, 175 x 282 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. (via Joanne Clifford, Flickrstream)

The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) announced on Tuesday, April 16, that it has received over $1 million in government funding for projects advancing reconciliation and collaboration with indigenous groups.

The new initiative responds to Call to Action 67 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which called upon the federal government to provide funding to the CMA to “undertake, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, a national review of museum policies and best practices to determine the level of compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and to make recommendations.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was formed in 2008 by members of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The commission studied and documented the lasting impacts of the Canadian Indian residential school system on Indigenous students and their families. In 2015, the commission released an executive summary of its finding, including 94 calls to action to advance reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples. In a second report that years, the TRC described the establishment and operation of residential schools in Canada as “cultural genocide.”

“The Canadian Museums Association has an important role to play in the reconciliation process with Indigenous Peoples in Canada,” Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez said. “Cultural spaces, like our museums and other heritage institutions play a fundamental role in bringing our communities together by enriching our understanding of our shared history.”

“In our interconnected world, museums have become ever more essential to the preservation of cultural diversity and appreciation”, Vanda Vitali, Executive Director of the CMA reiterates in a statement and describes the new program as “ambitious, comprehensive and inclusive.”

The program provides funding to two initiatives to be implemented through the CMA’s network of 2,600 museums and cultural institutions. The CMA Reconciliation Project will receive $680,948 to support a national review of museum policies, in collaboration with Indigenous groups, to make recommendations. An additional $351,508 will be provided to education and the professional development projects including a national museum-worker bursary program, museology reports, workshops, online learning modules, and more. A CMA Reconciliation working group has already been formed.

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an MFA in Art Writing from the School of Visual...

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