Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice    News

Update on the BCMA’s Ongoing Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: February 2024

 February 7, 2024

The BC Museums Association is committed to supporting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the museum and cultural sector and in our own organizational practices. A key component of this commitment is being open and transparent with our community. We aim to provide quarterly updates about the steps we are taking to support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. If you have feedback or would like to share your thoughts, we encourage you to contact us at any time. To read our past updates, please visit this page.

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The BCMA has published quarterly justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion updates since 2020. For our first update of 2024, we would like to look back on the past few years and check in on ongoing projects.

The work to become more equitable and just is ongoing and requires continuous curiosity, learning, reflection, and action. While it is easy to announce new programs and new initiatives, sustaining equity work and iterating on successes and challenges is a slow process. The BCMA publishes quarterly updates to both be more transparent with our members and the broader museum community about our work and to hold ourselves accountable.

The funding model of the not-for-profit sector does not support ongoing work. Too many funders require applicants to propose “new” or “innovative” projects that have “never been done before.” The need to constantly focus on new projects often comes at the expense of sustaining and iterating upon existing projects. This can make projects feel extractive. Organizations are incentivized by funders to quickly start projects, extract the most “impact” from a project they can, and then move on to the next opportunity. When an organization is working on a year-to-year project grant cycle it makes it difficult to grow, nurture, and sustain relationships with new communities and reporting requirements incentivize organizations to present all projects as successes, no matter how modest the true impact of the project has been.


While the BCMA continues to advocate with funders to change funding practices that impede meaningful equity work, we recognize that change is going to be slow, especially as provincial and federal governments continue to embrace austerity as we emerge from the pandemic. The BCMA relies on project funding for a significant portion of its annual budget and knowing this, we strive to find ways to nurture and sustain relationships even while working within a project-based funding framework. This requires us to be transparent when working with partners that ideas for partnerships and collaborations may not be possible if project grants are unsuccessful or that sometimes it might take a year or more for us to successfully find funding to support a partnership.


I am proud that the BCMA Council and staff prioritize taking a relationship-based approach to our work. As we hope to show through the updates below, the Association is committed to doing the work of learning, unlearning, and supporting equity in all aspects of our work, culture, and impact. It is an honour to be on this journey with such a passionate team, Council, and community of members.


If you are curious about something mentioned in a past JEDI update, or if you have suggestions about how the BCMA can better support equity work in our sector, please do not hesitate to email us


-Ryan Hunt

BCMA Executive Director


Maintaining Relationships with Conference Speakers

In our January 2022 update we mentioned the impact of Brandie MacDonald’s keynote at our 2021 Virtual Conference. For the past several years, we have been attempting to prioritize maintaining relationships with the speakers we invite to BCMA conferences and gatherings. We do this by following speakers’ careers and what they are working on, trying to keep in touch regularly, inviting them back for follow-up presentations or written resources when appropriate and timely. Brandie MacDonald was invited to speak at the 2023 Haida Gwaii Gathering and travelled to the event from her home in the United States. Similarly, Joshua Seymour was a closing keynote speaker at the BCMA’s 2019 Conference in Prince George and joined us in Haida Gwaii to give a special territorial welcome inviting delegates to the BCMA’s 2024 gathering on the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh.


Finding New Community Impact Models for BCMA Conference

In our November 2022 update we discuss our intention to explore models for making BCMA conferences more impactful for host communities. In 2022, we exclusively hosted conference sessions and activities in member venues, ensuring that nearly all conference expenses went to local businesses, non-profits, and Indigenous-owned businesses. We have continued to experiment with new conference models by hosting the 2023 Gathering in partnership with the Haida Gwaii Museum, where we supported local businesses and artists as much as possible, held a daily artist market, made space on panels for local expertise, and invited community members to participate in the event and engage with the discussions. 


Animikii Partnership

In the November 2022 update, we announced a partnership between the BCMA and Animikii Indigenous Technology to co-develop a new online course offering wise practices in reconciliation for arts, culture, and museum workers/volunteers. To date we have worked with Animikii, a steering committee of BCMA Indigenous Advisory Committee members, and Taaujuu Consulting to produce a pathfinding report that includes a draft site architecture and user experience plan as well as a draft curriculum for the course. We look forward to continuing work on this online course and hope to share news about its progress soon.


CARE Resources

As mentioned in our May 2023 update, the BCMA released a series of Candid, Actionable Reconciliation Education (CARE) resources. Our team continues to develop plans and opportunities for engagement with these resources and conversations. BCMA will be offering a CARE Workbook workshop in Spring 2024 and is actively creating spaces for ongoing conversation within the BCMA Book Club. 


2023 Summer Equity Series

In our May 2023 update we shared plans to host a Summer Equity Series and we are proud to share that this free online webinar series saw 329 registrations! These resources and recordings are available on the BCMA website.


IBPOC Network

In the summer of 2020, a special working group of the BCMA Council and staff met to discuss how the Association can better respond to the needs of historically underrepresented communities. From this meeting the BCMA Council recommended that the Association should begin to develop a support network for BIPOC museum volunteers and professionals. Since its launch, the BCMA IBPOC Network has grown significantly.

In 2023, the IBPOC Network brought seven in-person networking sessions across the province, including one in Haida Gwaii during the September Gathering. Feedback from these sessions has been excellent, with participants sharing that these spaces have been a much-needed source of support for IBPOC professionals. In addition to our monthly online Tea and Talks, these in-person sessions provide a way for members to build relationships on a deeper level, while navigating workplace challenges together as a group in an accountable and private setting.

The first two episodes of the IBPOC Network Podcast have been released and aim to show the value and passion many racialized folks bring to this sector. These episodes were recorded on location at the Gur Sikh Temple Gurdwara and Burnaby Village Museum and come with accompanying photos of the sites. If you would like to be a guest on our podcast, please reach out to Jazmin. We would love to hear your story!

This year we also launched Cultivating Careers, a series of online workshops designed to build skills and address specific challenges that IBPOC professionals face in the workplace. Recordings of the first four workshops can be watched here. This series will continue to be developed as we plan future sessions around topics such as trauma-informed practice and grant writing.  

The first Mentorship Edition of our monthly online Tea and Talks in July was very successful. Guest mentor Dr. Sharanjit Sandhra provided career advice and guidance in navigating workplace challenges. This series will be ongoing, with a new guest mentor invited every few months. 

The BCMA’s IBPOC Listserv continues to grow. If you would like to join an expanding network of IBPOC professionals, share resources, or seek advice, please consider signing up on our website.



Cost of Living Funding Increases: In 2022, the BCMA, in partnership with the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and peer arts service organizations, advocated that the Province of BC use some of its recently announced surpluses to offer inflationary cost of living increases to the BC Arts Council budget. While this advocacy did not result in a permanent cost of living increase to the budget, it did influence the Government of BC in allocating more than $70 million in special one-time resilience funding across the broader arts, culture, and heritage sector. We continue to work with our sector partners to advocate for sustainable funding increases that ensure that all arts, culture, and heritage professionals can receive equitable compensation and living wages.

Meaningful Changes to Canada’s National Museum Policy: In 2022, the BCMA worked with our partners at National, Provincial, and Territorial museum associations to coordinate a sector-wide advocacy response regarding the modernization of Canada’s National Museum Policy. Over the past two years, we have developed member advocacy materials, held town halls to hear our members’ needs and aspirations, and participated in regular consultation sessions with the Department of Canadian Heritage. Together with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, we have developed a policy paper that demands that the Government of Canada use the modernization of the National Museum Policy as an opportunity to ensure that all new legislation and funding centres the rights and autonomy of Indigenous Peoples. We look forward to sharing the policy paper later this Spring.


Honesty and transparency are a critical part of this work and we welcome our members’ feedback on how we can continue growing and improving. If you have questions, comments, or thoughts, please contact us at any time. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss how the BCMA can support your organization’s own justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work, we would be happy to hear from you. This work will take time, but together we can use the transformative power of museums to reinvent our sector for the betterment of everyone.