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Cowichan Tribes to receive funding to assist with repatriation of objects and ancestors

25 First nations in B.C. share $454,000 in funding for project
Cowichan Tribes is receiving funding from the province and the BC Museums Association to help with its repatriation projects. (File photo)

Cowichan Tribes is one of 25 First Nations in B.C. that will receive funding from the BC Museums Association and the province as part of the 2020 Repatriation Grants program to help pay for its research and activities concerning repatriation.

A press release doesn’t say how much of the $454,000 in funding for the program Cowichan Tribes will receive to help the First Nation continue its search for cultural objects in worldwide collections, but the project grants up to $35,000 for repatriation activities that have moved beyond the research stage.

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 B.C. government are taking a critical step in reconciliation and supporting this work.

“I raise my hands to all these communities doing this difficult and necessary work,” said Melanie Mark, minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.

“There is more to do but this is a step in the right direction. I’m proud of our government for supporting each of today’s recipients to return ancestral remains and cultural belongings to their communities. This is reconciliation in action.”

The grants will assist communities in dedicating staffing, time, and financial resources to seek information regarding the whereabouts and identification of their ancestors and cultural heritage.

“First Nations throughout British Columbia are eager to have their ancestors and related cultural patrimony returned,” said Jodi Simkin, BCMA president.

“This funding demonstrates a commitment to helping achieve this important step in the reconciliation process and the BCMA is proud to support this work.”

Projects funded by the grants will help Indigenous communities return the remains of hundreds of ancestors home over the next year.