3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Not Without Us:
Fostering Spaces of Belonging in Museums
Lucy Bell, Sdahl K'awaas, PhD candidate, Haida
Nation-based researcher, Simon Fraser University and the Haida
Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, Coordinator, South
Asian Studies Institute, University of the Fraser Valley;
Co-Curator, Sikh Heritage Museum, National Historic Site Gur Sikh
About the Session
This talk will explore the historical antecedents of why museums
across Canada continue to be spaces of not-belonging for
Indigenous, Black and People of Colour. Following historical
explanations, the presentation will look at some incredible
successes, including Haida repatriation in the past twenty years as
an act of true (as opposed to performative) reconciliation and
through the decolonized work in the Sikh Heritage Museum, National
Historic Site and Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, BC.
Image courtesy of
Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra.
of Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra
Engaging with all principles of Reconciliation, Inclusion,
Community, and Innovation, the presenters will offer tools that can
be fostered in museums to decentre their innate whiteness. Museums
must engage with all four principles to move towards urgently
needed change, and consciously honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to
Action, and the Task Force Report on Museums and First
Peoples. The work of the presenters, Lucy Bell and Sharanjit
Kaur Sandhra, will demonstrate the power of interracial solidarity
as an exercise towards changing museum systems of power.
Questions to Consider
- What are some of the tangible solutions or steps to take to
change the ways in which our museums forge a space of not-belonging
for so many people?
- Who are the partners we can engage with, and how can we engage
with them to change the systemic racism in our institutions?
- Where do you see meaningful change in museums actually taking
About the Speakers
Lucy Bell, Sdahl K'awaas
she / her
Lucy Bell is a passionate Indigenous museologist. With her
at the helm, the Haida have repatriated over 500 ancestral remains
from global museums and curated many exhibits. Lucy received a BC
Community Achievement Award for her work in repatriation. She was
the inaugural Head of the Indigenous Collections and Repatriation
Department at the Royal BC Museum. In her farewell speech, she
graciously called out the museum for racism, launching an
investigation and internal work to address the problem. Lucy is
passionate about learning. She is a distinguished UVic Alumna. She
is currently an SFU PhD Candidate focussing on Haida museology.
Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra
she / her
Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra is the Coordinator at the
South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser
Valley (UFV), co-curator of exhibits at the Sikh Heritage Museum,
located in the National Historic Site Gur Sikh Temple in
Abbotsford, BC, and a sessional faculty in the Department of
History at UFV. She is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History
at the University of British Columbia and is interested in looking
at the affective experiences of museum visitors through a critical
race theory lens. Sharn is a passionate activist, building bridges
between community and academia through museum work. She is a past
member of the BC Museums Association Board of Directors, and
currently a Director with the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre -
Museum of Migration.