Bill 22 is designed to be the first step toward helping ensure that indigenous communities can reclaim sacred ceremonial objects held in provincial collections. The first draft was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on Thursday.
Ricardo Miranda is the Minister of Culture and Tourism and he explains that the bill is intended to also reinforce the validity of past repatriations.
“What we’re trying to do basically is expand it to include all First Nations and include the Metis and Inuit in the legislation as well so we can actually have the discussions with all those groups that may be wanting to have sacred objects repatriated.”
Miranda says it will apply to anything considered sacred by First Nations people that is currently held by the crown.
“Depending on the Nation, of course, different kinds of objects were considered sacred and for ceremonial purposes. So there really isn’t a ‘generic.’ It’s whatever Nation considers sacred that is held right now in the collections. So, it’s a variety of items.”
Miranda says that he’s not overly concerned about the loss of the educational angle, by having these items taken out of museum displays and returned to their rightful owners.
“I know we will be consulting with elders and knowledge keepers and we’re very confident that we will find ways to continue that education piece, while at the same time respecting that these are sacred ceremonial objects that belong in the hands of the people who hold them to be sacred, and not in museums.”
Miranda says that a review of the existing 2013 legislation revealed a need to update the law in order to bring the act up to speed with UN repatriation regulations.