Update on the BCMA’s Ongoing Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: September 2023
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.
Jump to: New Updates
So what exactly is the Pathways Program?
BCMA members may have noticed emails and social media posts about a new initiative called the Pathways Program. If your organization wants support to action equity initiatives or to further your systems change work, please join the Pathways Program!
For the past two years, the BCMA has been working with Arts BC, the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA), the Rural Arts Inclusion Lab (RAIL), and the BC Arts Council to research and then develop a model for a province-wide arts, culture, and heritage equity program. As we researched models in other provinces and countries and developed ideas for what this kind of program could look like in practice, we received invaluable input from a working group who were never afraid to challenge the assumptions we were bringing into the virtual meeting room.
The Pathways Program attempts to build a supportive community for the participating people and organizations. This year-long program will allow organizations to work with a Guide to develop an individualized learning plan and participating organizations will also get the opportunity to build a peer support network through cohort-based learning experiences.
Illustration of the Pathways Program’s learning process
In the pilot year of the Pathways Program, we have funding available for 70 organizations to enroll two individuals each. This pilot program is open to any arts, culture, or heritage organization with a willingness for change, commitment to participate, and desire for honest, and potentially challenging, conversations.
Pathways is developed in partnership with the BC Arts Council and as a result, 50% of the seats will be reserved for BCAC Operating Assistance clients. The remaining seats will be open to BC-based arts, culture, and heritage organizations (funded by BCAC or not) and prioritized to ensure a diversity of participants, including small-to-medium-sized organizations across the province that have limited resources or historically lacked access to opportunities.
Our intention is to learn from this pilot year in order to develop a sustainable, ongoing program. If you are interested in participating, but cannot join this year, we look forward to offering more opportunities in the future.
Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis from August 3 to September 15, or until all pilot spaces are filled. If you are interested, read more about the program on our website, or submit an expression of interest.
Through this program and our partnership with Arts BC, GVPTA, and RAIL, the BCMA hopes to support learning, relationship building, and systems change at a sectoral level. We cannot wait to see the conversations and new relationships that are facilitated by this program in the coming year – thank you to our partners, advisors, and community for helping to make this pilot a reality!
– Ryan Hunt, BCMA Executive Director
BCMA Staff Bystander Intervention Training
In July, the BCMA team participated in a two-workshop online bystander intervention training led by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria. This was an opportunity for us to get more comfortable with speaking out and intervening in situations where people are being put at risk and served as a reminder of how important it is to not stand by silently in the face of injustice.
As an organization, we strive to offer staff and volunteers biannual professional development opportunities to focus on strategies for supporting justice and equity in our work and workplace. We are exploring additional opportunities to extend learning about bystander intervention in order to ensure we are fostering accountable spaces for our members and community.
2023 Gathering on Haida Gwaii
The theme for this year’s gathering is Kil ‘láa – Kind Words. Through our partnership with the Haida Gwaii Museum and the Haida Heritage Centre, we hope to bring arts, culture, and heritage professionals & volunteers together for a series of meaningful conversations that inspire action to make our sector more equitable and just. Session highlights include:
- Trauma-Informed Practice: Meeting People Where They Are
- Community Resilience – How Cultural Organizations Can Support the Well-Being of Lands, Waters, and People
- Ga Sk’aadal K’uuga – Reconciliation Beyond Policy
- T’alang ‘waadluxan – You’re Messing With Our Lives
Find out more by visiting the 2023 Gathering schedule.
Summer Equity Series
Recent BC Arts Council feedback has encouraged many arts and culture organizations in BC to focus on continuing their equity journeys. To support the sector in our collective work to become more equitable and just, the BCMA hosted a summer equity series featuring regular webinars, online workshops, and discussions.
- BCMA Panel Discussion – Beyond Colonial Holidays: Exploring Community-Responsive Alternatives
- BCMA Workshop – Are Museums Still Not Neutral? With Dr. Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra
In September we will also share a written resource developed as part of this series, exploring ways in which organizations can make their workplaces more equitable even if they do not have access to additional funding for equity initiatives.
This year, the IBPOC Network brought six in-person networking sessions across the province, with our seventh coming up 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 members. 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. More information can be found on the Tea and Talk homepage.
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. More information about the podcast can be found here. 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 was invited to the session, during which participants asked her for 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.
The recent IBPOC Network Survey continues to generate valuable information about how the Network can better serve IBPOC professionals in our sector. An interactive version of this survey is brought to every in-person Tea and Talk as well, which has increased the number of responses we have received. BCMA staff continue to meet with the IBPOC Cultural Professionals Network Advisory Group to improve and expand programming and resources based on this and other feedback.
Lastly, a call for new IBPOC Advisory Group members for the 2024-2026 term is now public. If you would like to join the advisory group, please submit your expression of interest by October 20, 2023.
We continue to strive to provide effective programming and safe(r) spaces for all British Columbians who identify as IBPOC/BIPOC museum, heritage, and cultural professionals. If you have any suggestions or questions about the IBPOC Network, please email Jazmin.
One of the central strategic priorities of the BCMA is to advocate not only for the needs of our members, but for funding, legislation, and action in favour of long-overdue change in the heritage sector. Recently, the BCMA has been able to advocate for the following changes and investments on provincial and federal levels:
- Report on the Budget 2024 Consultation: In June, Ryan Hunt from the BCMA presented to the House Standing Committee on Government Finance and advocated for the establishment of an ongoing fund to support repatriation that is governed for and by Indigenous communities. This message was heard by the committee and included in this final 2024 budget report, stating:
- “On the topic of reconciliation, the BC Museums Association recommended ongoing grants to allow Indigenous communities to continue the work to repatriate culturally significant artifacts, as institutions and collectors around the world hold culturally significant items that should be returned. The West Kootenay Regional Arts Council echoed the BC Museums Association’s call to ensure that funding for Indigenous arts, culture, and heritage is sustainable and reflects the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).”
- National Museum Policy Position Paper: Canada’s National Museum Policy (NMP) has not been updated in more than 30 years. As the Department of Canadian Heritage works to modernize this key policy, it is critical that we advocate for significant change that reflects how our sector has grown over the past three decades and where it still must go. In partnership with First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC), the BCMA is drafting a position paper that clearly outlines why and how the NMP must reflect the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and centre the rights of Indigenous communities to steward their own arts, culture, and heritage as the core of the new national policy. The draft position paper is currently under review and we look forward to sharing it with members later in 2023.
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.