Coast Salish Territory, Vancouver, British Columbia – For far too long, governments and Canadians have been completely indifferent to the situation of Indigenous peoples. But, when it comes to the public images of BC and Canada internationally, governments have no hesitation in showing and relying on images reflecting the vastness and depth of Indigenous cultures. Nonetheless, where it has been appropriate, Indigenous peoples have been proud to share their songs, stories, ceremonial regalia, images, and their many varied cultural treasures.

“In the past, many Indigenous “cultural objects”, which we call treasures, were wrongfully taken, and, in many cases, stolen from Indigenous owners, families and communities. These treasures, including the sacred remains of our ancestors, must be returned. We welcome the Premier’s commitment to this process of repatriation,” said Grand Chief Edward John on behalf of the First Nations Summit.

Repatriation plans must be developed with the full and active participation of Indigenous peoples. Where there are obstacles preventing repatriation, legislative or administrative actions must be taken on a priority basis to provide remedies to ensure the expeditious return of the cultural treasures.