Update on the BCMA’s Ongoing Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: April 2021
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. Moving forward, we are committing to providing 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 playlist.
In recent weeks there have been tragic examples of violent anti-Asian racism in Canada and the United States.
It is tempting to think of examples like this as something “new” or “un-Canadian,” but as the recently published work Challenging Racist “British Columbia” – 150 Years and Counting reminds us, violence and discrimination directed towards racialized individuals have long been a central part of the Canadian experience and British Columbia is no exception. A 2004 special report by the UN Commission on Humans Rights referred to “the deep roots of the history, culture, and mentality of racism and discrimination in British Columbia.” We live on the stolen lands of Indigenous peoples in a province named after a colonial power and a historic colonizer. It is imperative that as individuals and organizations we acknowledge that British Columbia is built upon colonial violence and we actively work to confront and reject racism in our communities.
It is imperative that we all take a stand against anti-Asian racism now. Nearly 90% of Canadians view museums, galleries, and cultural organizations as trustworthy sources of information and we have the ability to utilize this trust to fight against racism, misinformation, and discrimination in our society. The BCMA is collecting examples of how museums are taking stands against racism and discrimination as part of BC Museums Week 2021. If you would like to share the work your organization has done to take action against racism or to work with communities to tell under-represented stories, please contact us at email@example.com.
Special thank you to BCMA Council member and Director|Curator of the Nikkei National Museum, Sherri Kajiwara, for sharing the following anti-racism and allyship resources with us. We would also like to thank these organizations and programs for their work: Powell Street Festival, Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association, MOA, and the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program at UBC.
If you are looking for anti-racism and allyship resources, we recommend the following:
- Elimin8hate: A collaboration between the Vancouver Asian Film Festival and Project 1907 that provides an anonymous and safe reporting environment for Canadians of Asian ancestry experiencing anti-Asian attacks, aims to consolidate public resources in an accessible format to victims and utilizes reported data for actionable change.
- Challenge Racist BC: An open-access, multi-media resource that documents how this recent cycle of anti-racist activism is part of a broader history of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities challenging white supremacy for over 150 years – particularly since 1871 when BC joined Canada.
- I Hollaback: An organization that offers harassment and bystander training and educational programming that seeks to end harassment in all its forms by transforming the culture that perpetuates hate and harassment.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice: You can find a list of upcoming bystander intervention virtual workshops organized by AAJC in partnership with I Hollaback.
- PBS Asian Americans: A film series that will chronicle the contributions and challenges of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing ethnic group in America. Personal histories and new academic research will cast a fresh lens on U.S. history and the role Asian Americans have played in it.
- Challenging Anti-Asian Bias and Acting as an Ally: Resources for students, schools, classrooms, and families to open up conversations about anti-Asian racism, bullying, and harassment
- Allyship in Action: A webinar hosted by ADL Pacific Northwest and other co-sponsoring organizations provides interactive allyship training for communities across the Northwest.
- Resources and Community Support List: This list of resources was published as part of President Ono’s Statement on Anti-Asian Racism. It includes UBC-specific and community resources.
- Landscapes of Injustice: This online resource is dedicated to recovering and grappling with Canada’s mass displacement and dispossession of people on racial grounds, a collective moral failure during the 1940s.
Since our previous update, the BCMA has taken the following actions to support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion:
ACTION: Live ASL translation for BCMA webinars
With the support of the BC Arts Council’s Pivot Grant, we are happy to begin offering live American Sign Language (ASL) translation services for BCMA webinars. The first webinars to offer ASL translation are planned for BC Museums Week (May 17-23, 2021) and we look forward to continuously expanding accessibility options offered for our online programming.
ACTION: Summer Anti-racism and Equity Series
Starting on Friday, May 21 during BC Museums Week 2021, the BCMA is launching a multi-part anti-racism and equity webinar series. Through this series, we hope to explore topics like why the museum sector fosters toxic leadership, how museums and cultural organizations can be champions for equity within their communities, and strategies for decolonizing how museums approach their work.
Details for these sessions are still being finalized, but we look forward to sharing more information and launching registration very soon. For now, we encourage members to save the following dates:
- May 21 at 11:00 am PDT: The Elephant in the Room – the Leadership Crisis in Canada’s Cultural Sector
- June 2 at 11:00 am PDT – Webinar exploring museums and social change
- July (exact dates TDB) – Online workshops exploring decolonization, inclusive leadership, and anti-racism
ACTION: Working with Members to Identify Systemic Governance Challenges
The BCMA is beginning a multi-part project to work with members to identify systemic governance challenges and will develop tools, training, and strategies to make not-for-profit governance models and systems more inclusive and equitable. We are happy to be working with Mighty Museum on the first stage of this project, who will be reaching out to members to discuss common governance challenges. Look for more information about how you can contribute to this project very soon.
ACTION: Repatriation Resources for Museums
The BCMA is working with its Indigenous Advisory Committee to create and compile resources to help museums and cultural organizations create clear policies and protocols for repatriating ancestral remains and cultural patrimony to Indigenous communities. On International Museum Day (May 18, 2021) we are planning a day of discussion and resource sharing to help museums make this meaningful step in the reconciliation process and to return Indigenous ancestors and culture home.
In our January 29 update, we mentioned the following actions, we would now like to provide a brief update on:
ACTION: Allocate More Funding for Diverse Voices
In our 2021/22 budget, we have allocated more funding to support diverse voices in all BCMA programs, learning opportunities, and resources. We are currently welcoming proposals from BC-based Indigenous artists to work with us on a nationwide repatriation call to action that will be released this Spring. Submissions are due April 21, 2021. More details are available on our website.
ACTION: Launch an IBPOC Museum Professionals Network
The BCMA is expanding its Mentorship Program by introducing a new network that will provide targeted support for Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (IBPOC) in the cultural sector. The new IBPOC Museum Professionals Network will enable access to practical resources, professional development, networking opportunities, and peer support. Sarah Wang has been hired as the IBPOC Network Coordinator and you can learn more about Sarah on our website. Sarah is currently working on confirming and scheduling webinars and creating a survey to better address the needs of the IBPOC community.
ACTION: Expand Reconciliation and Decolonization Resources for Museums
As mentioned in our January update, Koy Taylor and Leia Patterson have joined the BCMA team and are helping to expand our reconciliation and decolonization resources. In addition to their work in helping to support the above-mentioned repatriation resources, Leia is regularly updating the BCMA’s Indigenous Culture & Heritage Resource Portal and Koy is working with Indigenous members and cultural organizations to see how the BCMA can best support them.
ACTION: Improve Website Accessibility
In our January update, we promised that our new website would meet higher standards for online accessibility. Since then our new site has launched (museum.bc.ca) and we encourage members to share their feedback, especially if you have suggestions for how it can make it more accessible for you.
ACTION: Review Internal Systems and Improve Practices
The BCMA continues to review our internal policies, procedures, and practices to make sure that we embrace and uphold our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels of our organization. We are currently working to review our recruitment practices and hope to share an update on our learnings soon.
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.